EXCLUSIVE: Fox has given a pilot order to Filthy Rich, a soapy drama from The Help writer-director Tate Taylor, Imagine Television and 20th Century Fox TV.

This marks the first greenlight decision since AMC President and GM Charlie Collier took the reins of the broadcast network as Fox CEO of Entertainment last month. I hear Collier, a big fan of Taylor’s work, committed to a pilot order in the room as he and Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn recently met with Taylor and Imagine TV’s Brian Grazer.

Filthy Rich also marks the fourth early pilot order for 20th TV, which is getting a head start on pilot season 2019. The studio, which is preparing for a move from Fox to Disney, also has pilot orders at CBS for drama Surveillance starring Sophia Bush and at ABC for an NYPD Blue sequel and comedy Happy Accident.

TVNZ

Written and to be directed by Taylor based on the New Zealand series of the same name, Filthy Rich is described as a larger than life Southern Gothic dramedy which revolves around two strong, sharp women who will go to any length to protect their loved ones and get their due. When the wealthy CEO of the world’s largest Christian network dies in a plane crash, his wife and adult children are stunned to discover he has grown, illegitimate kids who are also in his will. When the steel azalea matriarch of the family tries to pay them to go away, these newly legitimized heirs have very different ideas and insist on not only staying in town, but becoming part of the family empire.

Taylor is executive producing with his producing partner John Norris via Wyolah Films alongside Imagine’s Grazer and Francie Calfo. Overseeing for Imagine TV are Anna Culp and Jillian Kugler.

Fox originally bought Filthy Rich last development season with a put pilot commitment. It did not go to pilot, and Taylor went on to direct the movie Eve starring Jessica Chastain. But I hear both sides remained high on the project, which led to Thorn and Collier’s recent meeting with Taylor and the Imagine team where the drama got a green light.

“This is a project we’ve long been passionate about,” said Thorn. “It’s a big, juicy and surprisingly emotional family drama set in the south that’s unlike anything else on television. There is no one better to tell this story than Tate Taylor, who gives it an authentic and original voice. And there’s no one better to produce it than Brian Grazer, who simply is one of the best in the business.”

For actor-turned filmmaker Taylor, who was born and grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, this is a personal project.

“As a Southern man, I’m so excited to be telling this story of family, faith and ambition set in a place I grew up in and around. I’m also so thrilled to be working again with my friends at Imagine and to be the first TV series with the new Fox,” he said.

Filthy Rich also joins a long line of strong matriarchs in soapy Fox dramas, from Amanda on Melrose Place to Cookie on Empire, also produced by Imagine TV and 20th TV.

“We are excited to add Filthy Rich to our long legacy of culture-defining TV series with Fox and 20th,” Calfo said. “Tate’s clear and inspired vision is a one-two punch — highly entertaining and culturally relevant.”

On the feature side, Taylor previously directed the 2014 Imagine movie Get on Up. 

“We’ve had great success with Tate and marrying his unique and original voice to this universe from the South will be shocking, exciting and compelling,” Grazer said. “We are thrilled that our pilot was the first to be ordered under Charlie’s new leadership and look forward to expanding on our long history with 20th and Fox.”

At Fox, Imagine TV also has drama King of Sting in development for next season.

The original Filthy Rich, created by Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang, premiered in 2016 on TVNZ as the country’s biggest budget TV series ever. It was renewed for a second season, which aired in 2017.  You can watch a trailer below.

Taylor, who also directed the feature The Girl On the Train, is repped by CAA and attorney Stephen Clarke. Imagine TV also is with CAA.