Sanchez plays pickup game in HBO's gym


Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's Gary Sanchez Prods. has landed its first TV series.

HBO has picked up the company's comedy pilot about a baseball player-turned-gym teacher to series with a five-episode order (for a total of six, including the pilot).

Written by Jody Hill, Ben Best and Danny McBride, the untitled project, also known as "East Bound and Down," centers on Kenny Powers (McBride), a burned-out professional baseball pitcher who returns to his hometown in the South, where the only job he can find is as a substitute gym teacher.

Katy Mixon, John Hawkes and Andrew Daly co-starred in the pilot, which was directed by Hill.

The series, to be filmed in North Carolina, is exec produced by Ferrell, McKay and Gary Sanchez's Chris Henchy, as well as Hill, Best and McBride.

HBO, which is experiencing tricky times on the series side following the end of its signature drama "The Sopranos," is betting on big-name producers for its upcoming shows. The series pickup for the Ferrell-produced comedy joins the recently ordered drama series "True Blood" from Alan Ball. The network's third pilot in contention, an untitled medical drama, hails from J.J. Abrams.

A little more than a year after its June 2006 launch, Sanchez's outfit is firing on all cylinders.

In addition to its first TV series, the company recently received a green light for "The Goods: The Don Ready Story," its first feature under a first-look deal with Paramount Vantage (HR 8/27).

The company also has emerged as a player in the user-generated video content arena with, its collaboration with Sequoia Capital.