HBO commits to 13 episodes of detective skein

HBO has given Warner Bros. Television a 13-episode commitment for an hour-long drama skein based on “L.A. Confidential,” New Regency’s 1997 Oscar-winning detective yarn about corruption in the 1950s Los Angeles police force.

The series will be a co-production with Regency Television, the TV arm of New Regency. Walon Green (“The Wild Bunch”), who has recently served as a producer on “ER,” will exec produce and write the new “L.A. Confidential.”

Arnon Milchan, who produced the original movie, will also serve as an exec producer of the series, which will be based largely on characters created by James Elroy for the book and movie versions of “L.A. Confidential.” New characters are also expected to be created for the series.

Rather than pick up where the film left off, the skein will take place 8 years before the start of action in the movie. Production is expected to start later this year in Los Angeles.

Original “L.A. Confidential” director Curtis Hanson will not be involved in the series production.

Two Oscars

Hanson’s pic nabbed two Oscar statuettes, winning for Hanson and Brian Helgeland for best adapted screenplay and Kim Basinger for best supporting actress.

The deal for the “L.A. Confidential” series marks a rare venture into cable for Warner Bros. Television, which currently produces the hit actioner “La Femme Nikita” for USA. It’s also the first time Warner Bros. Television has produced a series for HBO, its corporate cousin in the Time Warner conglom.

Warner Bros. Television has been wary of selling shows to cable because, in most cases, cablers have been unwilling to come up with the license fees the studio needs to produce network-quality fare. In this case, Warner Bros. Television topper Tony Jonas and HBO execs were apparently able to agree on an equitable deal for all parties.

The studio also felt HBO was the best outlet for the series, since plans call for the skein to mirror the noirish mood of the original pic.

Teen drama

In addition to partnering with Warner Bros. for “L.A. Confidential,” Regency Television, under topper Gail Berman, is working with Twentieth Television to produce the upcoming teen drama “Roswell High” for Fox Broadcasting Co.

Reps for HBO, Warner Bros. Television and Regency Television all declined comment.

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