HBO loads up on laughs


HBO did some serious holiday shopping the past two days.

On Thursday, the pay cable network picked up to series two comedies: "How to Make It in America," toplined by Bryan Greenberg and Victor Rasuk, and the Jason Schwartzman starrer "Bored to Death."

They follow the Wednesday order for another male-centered comedy, "Hung," starring Thomas Jane.

"How to Make It" marks the third series on HBO from Stephen Levinson's Leverage and Mark Wahlberg's Closest to the Hole, whose other two shows on the network — the drama "In Treatment" and the comedy "Entourage" — recently landed best series Golden Globe noms.

The show revolves around Ben (Greenberg) and his friend Cam (Rasuk), enterprising twentysomethings who hustle their way through New York determined to achieve the American dream.

Shannyn Sossamon and Scott "Kid" Mescudi co-starred in the pilot written by Ian Edelman. Edelman exec produced it with Levinson, Wahlberg, Rob Weiss and the director Julian Farino.

For Weiss and Edelman, the defining moment came on the day they wrapped production on the pilot — the same day Barack Obama was elected president.

"You saw so many people from different socioeconomic backgrounds coming together under the same umbrella," Weiss said. "That's what we want to do on the show — weaving through those subcultures."

The Jonathan Ames-penned "Bored" centers on Jonathan (Schwartzman), a struggling writer with a drinking problem who, after a painful breakup with his girlfriend, decides to emulate his heroes from the novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. He takes out an ad pretending to be a P.I. and starts taking cases.

Ames, a novelist who landed his first TV series with "Bored," called the genre of the show "noirotic — a mix of noir and neuroses."

He exec produced the pilot, directed by Alan Taylor and co-starring Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis, along with Sarah Condon, Dave Becky, Stephanie Davis and Troy Miller.

HBO hasn't made a decision on several other pilots, including the comedies "Washingtonienne" and "Suburban Shootout" and the drama "Treme." (partialdiff)