EXCLUSIVE: Cynthia Mort, who created HBO’s racy drama series Tell Me You Love Me and co-created the comedy pilot Tilda, is back in business with the pay cable channel. HBO has picked up a script for a half-hour series, which Mort co-wrote with author Mary Karr. Mort is executive producing the untitled project with feature producer Scott Rudin and Gail Lyon (Edge of Darkness), with Karr serving as co-executive producer. The show is based on Karr’s life, which the poet and essayist has depicted in a series of autobiographies, including the bestseller The Liars’ Club. It is described a a half-hour dark comedy about a family’s attempt to become whole again, while trying to reconcile their dark and complex past and will center on a writer in New York with flashbacks to her growing up in Texas with a drinking problem. “It is a a pretty extraordinary story, which lends itself to a series,” Mort said. “It is really a family comedy/drama.” Mort said that she and the other auspices on the project considered other networks but felt HBO was “a good fit creatively,” adding, “I have a complicated but I think pretty strong relationship with HBO.” The deal comes four months after HBO passed on the comedy pilot Tilda, which Mort co-wrote and executive produced with Bill Condon. It starred Diane Keaton, Ellen Page and Jason Patric. “I’m over it or I wouldn’t be in business with HBO,” Mort said about HBO’s decision on Tilda, which was tied to a rift between her and Condon during the production of the pilot. “I think things ended appropriately as Tilda wasn’t the show that should’ve been.”
WME-repped Mort will juggle work on the script for the new HBO project with her commitment to 2 feature projects. She is re-writing and producing Jane Millen, starring Nicole Kidman and directed by Nick Cassevettes. Mort is also set to make her directorial debut with Nina, a feature she wrote about legendary jazz singer Nina Simone and her relationship with her assistant Clifton Henderson. Filming is slated to begin in October. Rudin has several projects in the works at HBO, including Aaron Sorkin’s pilot More As This Story Develops.