HBO has picked up Veep, a D.C.-set comedy pilot about a female Vice President of the U.S. from British comedian, writer and director Armando Iannucci. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is in talks for the lead in the project, set “very near the White House” and centered on former Senator Selina Meyer who finds being Vice President is nothing like she expected and everything everyone ever warned her about. Iannucci co-wrote and will direct the pilot as well as executive produce with Chris Godsick and Frank Rich under the New York Times columnist’s deal with HBO. Iannucci has long political satire experience. His popular and BAFTA-winning British comedy series The Thick of It satirizes the inner workings of the British government. (Ianucci wrote Veep with one of his top writers on that series, Simon Blackwell). The Thick of It spawned the 2009 feature spinoff In the Loop starring Tom Hollander and James Gandolfini that earned an Oscar nomination for its script, co-written by Iannucci and Blackwell. ABC attempted to adapt the series during the 2006-07 development cycle with Mitch Hurwitz. The project went to pilot, which was directed by Christopher Guest and starred John Michael Higgins and Oliver Platt. After ABC passed on the pilot, several other networks, including HBO expressed interest, and Iannucci had conversations with the pay cable channel. By his reaction to the ABC pilot, he appears much better suited for cable. “It was terrible…they took the idea and chucked out all the style. It was all conventionally shot and there was no improvisation or swearing,” he said of the ABC version. He won’t have any problem with swearing on HBO.
Seinfeld alumna Louis-Dreyfus has been in high demand after her CBS comedy The New Adventures of Old Christine ended its 5-season run in May, with a number of writers courting her to star in a new series project. She has had a steady presence at HBO where she has recurred on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm playing herself. Iannuci and Louis-Dreyfus are repped by CAA. In addition to Veep, HBO has been close to picking up another female-centered comedy pilot, Kate Robin’s Fall/Spring starring Tea Leoni.