'True Blood's' Alan Ball will have a new series -- on Cinemax
EXCLUSIVE: Alan Ball has one of the most popular shows on cable with HBO's "True Blood." Now he could be a double threat via HBO's sister network.
The creator will executive produce a new series called "Banshee" that will serve as a key plank in Cinemax's original programming push.
The series will be set in a small town in Pennsylvania Amish Country (the titular Banshee), according to a person who was briefed on the project, and feature an enigmatic ex-con who's also an expert in martial arts. Darkly comic in tone, the show will have the ex-con posing as a murdered sheriff, imposing his own brand of justice while also cooking up plans that serve his own interests. Unlike the sagas of Sookie Stackhouse, there will be no supernatural element to the series.
Cinemax is working out financing and casting details with the hope of shooting this spring, said the person familiar with the plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the project publicly. Ball is developing the series with writers Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler, who brought the idea to him. The trio, along with actor Peter Macdissi, will all serve as executive producers. A Cinemax spokesman later confirmed the "Banshee" news.
"Banshee" is not expected to affect Ball's schedule on 'True Blood." Ball recently told the Television Critics Assn. that he's close to a deal for a fifth season of the Anna Paquin-Stephen Moyer vampire show. The fourth season is currently airing on HBO.
The addition of Ball, an A-list name with a prestige pedigree (thanks to "Blood" as well as longtime Emmy darling "Six Feet Under") gives a boost to Cinemax as it seeks to become a player in the scripted game. "Banshee" was initially set up at HBO but moved to Cinemax as the network began ramping up its original programming.
The network's scripted push (more on that shortly) begins this Friday with the premiere of "Strike Back," an adaptation of a British action series in which an American special-ops agent unites with an elite British military unit for a series of globetrotting adventures. A show based on the "Transporter" film franchise will also follow.
Cinemax plans on developing Friday night as its flagship evening of programming, using similarly themed movies as a lead-in.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Anna Paquin and Alexander Skarsgard on "True Blood." Credit: HBO