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HBO has dug up a new deal with gay Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball, but this time he's switching from the dead to the undead. The first project covered under the two-year development deal Ball signed with the premium cable channel will be based on the Southern Vampire book series.
Written by Charlaine Harris, the series chronicles the intermingling world of humans and monsters in contemporary rural Louisiana, particularly vampires, thanks to a synthetic blood formula that allows them to roam far from their coffins. "The books are funny, scary, sexy, romantic, bizarre, and really fun," Ball said. "I couldn't put them down. I will try to remain as true to the spirit of her book as possible." HBO has ordered an hour-long pilot to be written and directed by Ball. There is no set timetable for shooting the Southern pilot, but Ball believed it would happen sometime next year.
Ball, who also won an Oscar for writing American Beauty, last created Six Feet Under, which revolved around a family mortuary business. The Emmy-winning series ended in August. "I was ready to do something a little lighter in tone than Six Feet," Ball said. "Five years of staring into the abyss was enough."
Bringing Ball back into the fold represents a coup for HBO, which has proved adept at getting the creators of its hit series to come back for another try: Deadwood executive producer David Milch recently signed a new deal, and Sex and the City executive producer Michael Patrick King already has completed a second series for HBO, The Comeback.
"I had always assumed that Alan was done with TV," said Carolyn Strauss, HBO's president of entertainment. "I thought he was going to do movies, so we didn't even try. Then he read this book and said, 'I want to do this.' It was really a beautiful surprise." Since burying Six Feet Under, Ball has also written several screenplays on spec and developed a theatrical production in New York, All That I Will Ever Be. (Andrew Wallenstein, via Reuters)