HBO high on "Hung"

Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:00am GMT

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - HBO is hung up on "Hung."

The pay cable network has picked up the dark comedy pilot starring Thomas Jane to series.

The order for the project, from "The Riches" creator Dmitry Lipkin and Colette Burson, is said to be for 10 episodes, with the launch eyed for June.

Jane ("The Punisher") plays Ray, a well-endowed struggling high school basketball coach who figures out a way to use his best asset.

The sexual aspect will be a major source for comedy but not the main focus of the series, said Lipkin and Burson, who are already writing Episode 5.

"It has its sexual moments, but the show is very much about what's happening in the country, how people are trying to survive using what God had given them," Lipkin said.

Burson noted that the theme is even more relevant now, with the worsening economy, as is the Michigan setting for the show, picked long before the state became a focal point for the economic crisis as the home of the struggling Big Three automakers.

Most of the actors in the pilot, including Jane, Jane Adams, Sianoa Smit-McPhee and Charlie Saxton, will continue on the series, slated to begin production early next year.

"Sideways" director Alexander Payne, who shot the pilot, will stay on as an executive producer. "It was fun to do, and I am happy it is being picked up," Payne said.

"Hung" has enjoyed a dream ride at HBO in one of the fastest turnaround for a series.

Lipkin and Burson's spec script was the first major purchase by the network's new entertainment president Sue Naegle in April; then it was her first pilot pickup and now her first series order.

Additionally, Lipkin and Burson, who originally conceived the show a year ago as a comedy with the feel of a Payne movie, were able to get the Oscar winner to direct the pilot.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter