American Hustle writer/director David O. Russell has departed the ABC drama series he was to executive produce with Susannah Grant. Russell developed the project with Grant, CBS TV Studios and studio-based Timberman-Beverly for several months. It was quietly set up at ABC and a month ago, the network greenlighted it straight-to-series with a 13-episode order. That order remains in place following Russell’s exit, with the series, now titled The Club, locking in its first regular cast member, Callie Hernandez (Sin City 2). Russell, nominated for writing and directing Oscars for American Hustle, is rumored to have had issues with the script written by Erin Brockovich scribe Grant based on a story she co-wrote with Russell, and is expected to refocus fully on features. It is not unusual for big-name filmmakers to back out of a TV project. Ang Lee departed the pilot for FX’s Tyrant, which he was supposed to direct. Ben Affleck couldn’t direct Fox series The Middle Man as hoped (His role as a director was subject to availability, which was made impossible by his commitments to Gone Girl, Batman vs. Superman and Live by Night. He continues as executive producer on the project)
The Club is an upstairs/downstairs soap set at a private country club. Hernandez will play Ana, who works at the club, secretly stealing and pawning off nice items from her workplace. Russell is the hottest filmmaker at the moment with rare back-to-back Best Picture Oscar nominees — American Hustle this year and Silver Linings Playbook last year, accompanied by best writing and directing nominations both times. Russell is on a streak, with his previous film, The Fighter, also earning a Best Picture and Best Director nominations in 2011. Hernadez is with Paradigm and Management 360.