‘Thief’ buy a steal for FX

Skein is 2nd drama pilot to be greenlit by cabler

FX has bought a one-hour pilot from “Early Edition” producer Norman Morrill revolving around the world of heists.

Pariah is producing “Thief” in association with Regency Television and Fox TV Studios’ alternative unit, which also produces “The Shield” for FX.

Skein reps the second drama pilot to be greenlit by the cabler since announcing the deal for Denis Leary and Peter Tolan’s firefighter drama “Rescue Me.”

Creator-scribe Morrill, who produced the CBS drama “Promised Land” and the Fox hour “The Visitor,” says each episode of “Thief” encapsulates a single day in the time leading up to the robbery of a national institution.

Story centers on the three men connected to the heist, each faced with his own moral dilemma — the thief who’s just become a father figure, the cop who’s after him but has a shady past of his own, and a terminally ill member of the Chinese mob who is after the thief for reasons of his own.

“A lot of these ‘bad guy’ types have been stereotyped, and Norman has found a way to make them leap off the page and humanize them,” FX VP of series development Nick Grad said. “Coupled with the time element, the show has a great conceptual hook. We’re all about authenticity and subverting audience expectations.

Pariah exec Vivian Cannon agreed that the network would know how to handle the bold concept.

“It was just one of those scripts that constantly surprises you and I think that’s really emblematic of what FX does really well. Plus, both (Pariah prexy) Gavin Polone and I love heist movies,” Pariah exec Vivian Cannon said. “No one has really cracked that genre effectively in series, and we’re looking forward to doing that”

“I loved the idea of bad guys dealing with some elements that Middle America also copes with,” Morrill said. “Everyone has to work hard to juggle the balls, and I wanted to take taking the middle-class ethic and put it in a criminal setting.”

Casting is under way for the pilot that Morrill had been developing inhouse for a year, noting that FX gave him the creative freedom not afforded by other networks.

“We’ve been pretty successful with FX on ‘The Shield,’ and between Regency and Fox TV we’ve got a pretty good deal,” Fox TV Studios topper David Grant said. “This show is a little off-center with very intriguing characters and a unique approach — it just felt right for all involved.”

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