With the network’s meeting with the television critics association over the past week, there have been several projects at various stages of development announced by HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax. It’s become all too clear that the best of what Hollywood has to offer is looking more and more at television — specifically, the premium networks like HBO, Showtime, AMC, and FX — for their future gigs (the Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson series, True Detective, is the best recent example of that). You can tell a better, more detailed story on cable, so those networks are attracting bigger and better names, like the ones below.
Danny McBride — McBride and his Eastbound & Bound co-creator, who will finish out their series starting in September, will once again return to HBO. This time, they’re bringing a comedy series set in a high school to the network. No further details were announced. Surely, McBride will play a coach. He’s good at that. (Deadline)
David Milch — Milch (Luck, Deadwood) is nearly set to give HBO another go. This series is a “look at a dynastic New York media family, a look at power, the complexity of modern urban life in a classic Milchian voice.” Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) is likely to direct. I also understand that it will not involve animals, as HBO unlikely is to do another series involving animals in the wake of Luck. Damnit, HBO. You let PETA win. (Deadline)
Annette Bening — Jay Roach, who is occasionally good (The Campaign, Game Change) and occasionally terrible (Meet the Fockers, Dinner for Schmucks) is set to direct The Third Coast, a single-camera comedy starring Bening (American Beauty). The series hasn’t been formally taken to HBO yet, but they have plans to do so. The Third Coast revolves around a larger-than-life casting director (Bening) in New Mexico.” Hmph. I’ve always wondering how casting directors get those jobs. There really are only a handful of big casting directors who handle most of Hollywood’s casting. (Deadline)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman — Elsewhere, Phillip Seymour Hoffman has lined up a Showtime series, Trending Down, which he will also executive produce. The series comes from This American Life contributor Shalom Auslander. It’s about “a man facing his own obsolescence after his advertising agency is taken over” by corporate number-crunchers, in what Showtime is calling “a blistering attack on our youth-obsessed culture, and a darkly comic examination of what it means to matter. Or matter not.” Kathryn Hahn (Parks and Rec) will also star, and I’m guessing it will be very much like most of the Showtime schedule besides Shameless and the first season of Homeland: Not as good as its amazing cast. (EW)
Steven Soderbergh — Soderbergh, who has retired from making Hollywood movies (and who just contributed $10,000 to Spike Lee’s Kickstarter) is going to try a series out with Cinemax, of all networks. He will direct all ten episodes of The Kick, set in New York in 1900. Clive Owen will star in the series, which will take place in the Knickerbocker Hospital amid “the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff, who push the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics.” That sounds so very joyful. (NYTimes)
Finally, though they do not qualify as a big-time blockbuster name, Duplass Brothers. I love the Duplass Brothers, the mumblecore team behind Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Cyrus and Baghhead (Mark Duplass, of course, is also on The League and The Mindy Project). Their series, Togetherness, will star Amanda Peet and Melanie Lynskey, and it’s about “two couples living under the same roof who struggle to keep their relationships alive while pursuing their individual dreams.” The Duplass Brothers will write, direct, and produce the series, which will begin production in 2014. (THR)