TV News

Early Word on New HBO Pilots from Alan Ball and Judd Apatow

Source: Jennifer Vineyard
December 9, 2010

Alan Ball isn't getting out of the death business anytime soon, while Judd Apatow is branching out from bromance. Both have new pilots that have just been shot for HBO, based on source material from other writers Charlie Huston and Lena Dunham.

Ball's pilot, for a show called "All Signs of Death," is based on Huston's book "The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death," a dark, twisted, and comedic story about a guy named Web who works for a trauma cleaning unit called Clean Team in Los Angeles (think "Sunshine Cleaning" meets "Dexter," for all the sunny blood splatter). During the shooting of the pilot, Huston blogged, "A blood mortar sprays red-dyed banana and clumps of hair at a wall in a PCH beach house. Is this me? Are these the stories I've been telling? Jesus, why didn't anyone tell me it was like this?"

Huston wrote the draft for the pilot, while Ball is directing and executing producing. Ben Whishaw plays Web, while Dale Dickey from Winter's Bone plays his hippie mom Theodora, who spends her time growing and smoking marijuana in Oregon ("So I'm playing myself!" Dickey joked. "Not really.").

If "All Signs of Death" is cleared for series, the first season will loosely follow the plot of the book, which means some parts still need to be cast. Dickey told ComingSoon.net she'd like to see Brian Cox play Web's father. "There's a dad in the book," Dickey said, referring to L.L. Crows, a former Hollywood script doctor turned alcoholic. "It's an extremely important role. I'm looking at Brian Cox only because he was a teacher of mine when I studied in England years ago, and I adore him, and I think it would be fun to work with him."

Apatow's pilot, which he's executive producing, is for a show called "Girls," written and directed by Tiny Furniture's Dunham. "'Girls' is definitely a departure from 'Tiny Furniture,'" Dunham told ComingSoon.net, "but there are definitely common themes, like what people responded to in the movie is going to be present in the show."

Like a younger, more real-life version of "Sex and the City," "Girls" follows three girlfriends in their early '20s - Hannah, Marnie, and Jessa. Dunham plays Hannah, the Carrie-like central figure who is a hopeful writer. Allison Williams, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams' daughter who has gained some notoriety for her singing over the "Mad Men" theme on YouTube, plays the feisty Marnie, an assistant at a PR firm who would like to be a lawyer. And Jemima Kirke, who played Charlotte in Tiny Furniture, will be Jessa, the arty and flakey one of the bunch.

"I hope that we get a chance to go to series, because I've never seen a series about girls like me or girls my age depicted in a way that felt accurate and honest," Dunham said. "I can always promise awkward sex - not sex in a pipe, but I won't disappoint you. It's still cringe-worthy."

Two supporting male characters will be played by Chris Abbott and Adam Driver (from HBO's "You Don't Know Jack"), the latter of which will play a love interest for Hannah. "We have a cast that really gets me hot and bothered, and hopefully other people too," Dunham laughed.





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