EXCLUSIVE: HBO has picked up to pilot Hello Ladies, a comedy co-written, directed by and starring Stephen Merchant. The project, which The Office co-creator co-wrote with former Office writer-producers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, stars the 6ft 7in Merchant as a gawky Englishman searching for the woman of his dreams in Los Angeles. Half as charming as he thinks he is — and twice as desperate — he’s obsessed with infiltrating the glamorous world of beautiful people. Unfortunately the beautiful people won’t let him in. Merchant, who also explored the theme in his Hello Ladies standup show last year, Eisenberg and Stupnitsky are executive producing the pilot, which is slated to shoot before the end of the year. HBO is producing in association with ABC Studios where Eisenberg and Stupnitsky are under an overall deal. On the feature side, Eisenberg and Stupnitsky, repped by WME and Mosaic, co-wrote box-office hit Bad Teacher. Writer/actor/standup comedian Merchant is best known for his collaborations with Ricky Gervais. The duo co-created The Office, Extras and Life’s Too Short, the last two co-produced and airing in the U.S. on HBO. Additionally, WME-repped Merchant co-starred opposite Gervais on Extras. In addition to Hello Ladies, HBO has Charles Randolph’s Cold War spy drama pilot.
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