FX has given a pilot order to Tyrant, a drama from Homeland executive producers Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff, Six Feet Under alum Craig Wright and 20th Century Fox TV’s Fox 21. Tyrant, casually referred to as “reverse Homeland“, was created by Raff, creator of the Israeli drama Prisoners Of War on which Showtime’s Homeland was based. Tyrant, developed by Gordon and Wright, tells the story of an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation. Raff wrote the pilot script, which hails from Teakwood Lane, Gordon’s 20th TV-based production company. “The brilliant and wholly original concept just blew us all away,” FX’s EVP Nick Grad said. “It’s pretty amazing when you read a script and can instantly imagine it becoming one of the best shows on television.”
Gordon, Raff and Wright are executive producing in association with Keshet Broadcasting, the Israeli company behind Prisoners Of War, which also co-produces Homeland. Wright is set to serve as showrunner if Tyrant goes to series. For Wright, the project stems from the overall deal he inked with Fox 21 in August. Production on the pilot is tentatively slated to begin in spring 2013. “Tyrant is exactly the type of project we aim to do at Fox 21 — working with extremely talented writer-creators to create provocative material with big, breakout characters and themes,” said Bert Salke, president of Fox 21, which produces flagship FX drama Sons Of Anarchy.
It is rare for FX to hand out a pilot order to a spec, something the cable network does only with A-list auspices it wants to be in business with. It most recently did it with Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s American Horror Story script, which led to a hit series. At FX, Tyrant joins drama pilot The Bridge, now filming, and Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse’s The Strain, which is still being written.
It has been a very successful first development season for Teakwood Lane, which was launched in July. The company has two cable pilot orders, Legends at TNT and Tyrant at FX, and five projects sold to the broadcast networks: Anatomy Of Violence penned by Homeland co-creators Gordon and Alex Gansa, which landed a pilot production commitment at CBS; an untitled adventure drama penned by Shaun Cassidy, which has a put pilot commitment at Fox; legal drama Ritter at NBC, which Gordon is doing with fellow Homeland executive producer Alex Cary; an untitled futuristic thriller for NBC with writer Josh Friedman, which has a script commitment with significant penalty attached; and the Max Landis-penned Vigilant at Fox, which also has penalty.
Gordon and Raff won two Emmys in September for Homeland — sharing a best writing award with Gansa for the pilot and a best drama series award with the rest of the show’s producing team. Gordon is repped by WME and attorney Michael Gendler. WME-repped Wright most recently created and executive produced the MTV series Underemployed. He received an Emmy nomination for his first TV writing gig on HBO’s Six Feet Under.