Showtime is beefing up its original scripted fair.
The premium cable network is expected to use its platform on Thursday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour to announce series pickups for Philip Seymour Hoffman comedy Happyish and Joshua Jackson drama The Affair, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Happyish (formerly Trending Down) is a dark examination of the pursuit of happiness, a pursuit that might just be the very thing causing our unhappiness in the first place. Hoffman stars as 42-year-old Thom Payne, whose new bosses are half his age. His mentor and boss, Jonathan (Rhys Ifans) tells him to “rebrand” himself; his corporate headhunter tells him happiness is a myth; and Thom isn’t sure if his Viagra will interfere with his Prozac, or vice versa. Kathryn Hahn stars as Lee Payne, Thom’s wife, who is looking for a larger goal, a purpose, a meaning when the best anyone can hope for is to be “happyish.” Louis C.K. has a cameo in the pilot.
Acclaimed author and This American Life contributor Shalom Auslander created the comedy and writes and executive produces alongside Hoffman via his Cooper’s Town Productions banner. The comedy was developed by Ken Kwapis, who will executive produce, and Alexandra Beattie, who will co-exec produce under their In Cahoots shingle. John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) directed the pilot.
The Affair, meanwhile, explores the emotional and psychological effects of an extramarital affair. The drama will be told separately from the male and female perspectives using the distinct memory biases to both misdirect and intrigue.
Ruth Wilson (Luther) plays Alison, a woman waiting tables at a popular Hamptons diner, trying to piece her life back together in the wake of a tragedy. Her husband, Cole (Fringe’s Jackson), struggles to keep it all together, with his wife and with the financially strained ranch that has been in his family for generations. Their emotionally charged marriage becomes even more complicated when Alison begins an affair with Noah (Dominic West, The Wire), a New York public school teacher and aspiring novelist who is spending the summer at his in-laws’ estate out on the island. ER’s Maura Tierney plays Helen, Noah’s wife of 17 years.
Award-winning playwright and writer-producer Sarah Treem (House of Cards) wrote the original script from a story co-created with Hagai Levi, whom she worked with on In Treatment. Treem and Levi will exec produce alongside Jeffrey Reiner (Friday Night Lights). Mark Mylod directed the pilot.
The two new series — both picked up for 10 episodes each with no formal premiere dates announced yet — come as Showtime is replenishing its inventory following the eight-season run of its signature drama Dexter and Californication, which will conclude following its upcoming seventh and final season. Last year, Showtime also bid farewell to drama The Borgias and comedy-turned-miniseries The Big C.
Happyish joins a comedy roster that also includes House of Lies, Nurse Jackie, Shameless, newly renewed Web Therapy and Episodes, the latter of which has already been picked up for a fourth season in 2015.
On the drama side, The Affair becomes the latest addition to a lineup that features upcoming monster mash Penny Dreadful, Homeland, Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex.
Showtime’s third remaining pilot — Kyle Chandler drama The Vatican — was passed over in December.