Heavyweights set HBO pilots


HBO is loading some big comedy guns.

The network has given pilot orders to "Suburban Shootout," written by Michelle Ashford and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and to Darren Star's "Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl."

The two join Bob Odenkirk and David Cross' comedy pilot "David's Situation," which was picked up last week following the exit of entertainment president Carolyn Strauss (HR 3/21).

Based on the critically praised British series, "Shootout" is a dark comedy about a woman who escapes the city for suburban bliss only to find herself caught between two rival gangs of homicidal housewives as they vie for control of their idyllic town.

Ashford penned the adaptation and is executive producing with Sonnenfeld as well as Laurence Bowen and Philip Clarke, who executive produced the original series.

Feelgood Fiction, the company behind the British series, will produce with Ashford's Round Two Prods. and Sonnenfeld's Right Coast Film Co.

"Shootout" premiered in 2006 and ran for two seasons on Five and Paramount Comedy in the U.K. and on Oxygen in the U.S.

The WMA-repped Ashford is a familiar face at HBO, where she recently worked on the miniseries "John Adams" and "The Pacific" as well as the upcoming "Undaunted Courage."

Sonnenfeld, who recently signed with WMA, is coming off a first-look deal with Sony Pictures TV. The director, hot off his praised work on ABC's "Pushing Daisies," also is repped by attorneys Melanie Cook and Stephen Espinoza.

"Diary," from Darren Star Prods. and Sony Pictures TV, is an ensemble show that takes a look at how power, sex and money collide through the eyes of a group of Manhattan's highest-paid escorts.

It marks the first HBO pilot in a long time that is being produced by an outside studio.

"Diary," based on call girl-turned-writer Tracy Quan's memoir, had been in development at HBO for a while (HR 10/19). It originally was set up at the pay cable network when it was run by Chris Albrecht, who, following his May exit from HBO, joined IMG and sold British comedy "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" to Showtime in December.

In addition to writing "Diary," "Sex and the City" creator Star also is expected to direct the pilot, which he is executive producing with Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

Star, who also is exec producing ABC's comedy pilot "Literary Superstars" starring Jenna Elfman, is repped by WMA and attorney Jamey Coen.