It’s more bad fortune for TV writer legend David Milch, as HBO has passed on his latest pilot, The Money. The Brendan Gleeson vehicle always had a bit of a nebulous premise, planning to talk about a media mogul who used his wealth and influence to ride roughshod over his empire and his family. It was meant to discuss the 1-percent-iest of the 1 percent, and that seemed like the sort of story Milch, who greatly loves telling stories involving characters at all different social strata and men who have so much power they may as well be gods, would do well with. The project was also to star Nathan Lane. Deadline broke the story.
Milch hasn’t had a project last past a single season since the cancellation of the much lamented Deadwood by HBO in 2006. The writer made his bones on Hill Street Blues, then became a legend with his work on NYPD Blue. (He won Emmys for both series.) It was Deadwood—frequently written on the fly—that became both the purest Milch experience and a calling card for what a gifted writer could do with the freedom of cable underneath him. But his follow-up to that series, the weird and ambitious John From Cincinnati, lasted only a season (and famously baffled viewers by airing its first episode after the series finale of The Sopranos). That was followed with another cop drama pilot for HBO, though that series never went forward. After that came the Dustin Hoffman-starring, Michael Mann-produced Luck, which actually got renewed for a second season before production had to be permanently shut down since the program couldn’t guarantee the safety of the racehorses it used for filming.
Like all HBO pilots, this one will almost certainly never see the light of day, unlike other networks, who occasionally see their failed projects leak. This is too bad, because HBO has an increasingly long list of failed pilots other networks would likely salivate to pick up. It also leaves HBO with a fairly significant hole in its drama lineup after Boardwalk Empire wraps this fall, as many assumed The Money would fill that gap. (Presumably, The Leftovers will step into the hole left by True Blood.) Though True Detective and Game Of Thrones are secure for now, HBO will be without a significant drama for fall 2015—and without Boardwalk around, a platform from which to launch it. That should make the next six to 12 months of development news out of HBO fairly interesting (and HBO always has wacky development news to begin with), so stay tuned.