Sam Shepard to Star in EPIX’s Tough Trade

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Acclaimed actor and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard is set to star in Lionsgate’s “Tough Trade,” the first original series pilot for EPIX, the new multi-platform entertainment service from Viacom Inc., its Paramount Pictures unit, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) and Lionsgate which launched October 30, 2009. With a creative team led by executive producer and showrunner Jenji Kohan (“Weeds”), the pilot was written by creator/co-executive producer Chris Offutt (“True Blood,” “Weeds”) and will be directed by Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Rendition, Tsotsi). Shooting begins December 3 in Nashville. The announcement was made today by Mark Greenberg, president and CEO of EPIX, and Kevin Beggs, Lionsgate’s president of television programming and production.

Shepard (Brothers, The Assassination of Jesse James, The Right Stuff) will portray the patriarch of the Tucker family in this provocative, contemporary one-hour drama about a three-generation Nashville music dynasty whose penchant for drink, debauchery and divorce has left them both morally corrupt and on the verge of bankruptcy. The family with little left is pinning its hopes on its former black sheep, a budding country star turned alternative rock heart throb. “Tough Trade” brings viewers behind the scenes and into the living room to expose the tragic and sometimes comedic secrets, scandals and sorrows of this unforgettable American family.

“Sam Shepard is the ideal actor to star in ‘Tough Trade’ and we are proud to have him be a part of EPIX’s first original series,” said Greenberg. “With Jenji Kohan as the executive producer and the incredible team at Lionsgate, we have no doubt that ‘Tough Trade’ is going to be a great story that launches our original programming line-up on EPIX. We are excited to begin production in Nashville and look forward to showing this pilot episode on EPIX in 2010.”

“It’s a tremendous coup to have Sam leading our cast,” said Beggs. “He’s a brilliant multi-talented artist who will bring great authenticity to the project.”

Chris Offutt is the creator, writer and co-executive producer of “Tough Trade.” Jenji Kohan (“Weeds”) and Sean and Bryan Furst (The Matador, The Cooler) are executive producers. The show was developed by Furst Films, under the company’s first look deal with Lionsgate TV.