First series for Epix has nice twang to it


Epix, the upcoming premium cable channel and broadband service owned by Viacom, Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate, is venturing into original scripted programming.

Epix has greenlighted the drama pilot "Tough Trade" from Lionsgate TV and Jenji Kohan, creator of the Lionsgate TV-produced Showtime comedy "Weeds."

"Trade" — about a three- generation Nashville music dynasty whose penchant for drink, debauchery and divorce has left them on the verge of bankruptcy — begins filming in Nashville in late summer.

Mark Greenberg, president of Studio 3 Networks, the joint venture behind Epix, said he expects "Trade" to become Epix's first scripted series with a 2010 premiere.

Epix's TV channel is targeted for a launch in October, following the May rollout of the broadband service. No carriage deals have been struck, but discussions continue, Greenberg said.

While Epix reached out to partner Lionsgate for its first series, Greenberg stressed that the channel will be looking to outside suppliers, too.

"Trade" was created by Chris Offutt ("Weeds"), who will co-exec produce, with Kohan and Bryan Furst exec producing.

"This is a genre and area of storytelling that has never been explored outside of features," Lionsgate TV's Kevin Beggs said. (partialdiff)