USA orders two-hour pilot script based on Kantor book

Reality guru Bruce Nash is one step closer to making his debut in the scripted realm.

Producer of hits such as “For Love or Money” has partnered with USA Network on an untitled six-hour limited series based on a fictitious modern world in which the South has won the Civil War.

Cabler has ordered a two-hour pilot script and a bible outlining future episodes from Nash and John Leekley (“The Blue and the Gray”), who will be exec producers. Project is based on the book “If the South Had Won the Civil War,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author MacKinlay Kantor.

Nash has been aggressively trying to break into the scripted series biz. At FX, he is developing an untitled “Larry Sanders”-esque comedy, to be penned by Andrew Gottlieb (“Watching Ellie”), set behind the scenes of a reality production company (Daily Variety, Aug. 18). In addition, Nash has “The Fix,” a one-hour project at ESPN centered on the world of gambling and college football.

But the Civil War has been Nash’s passion since childhood.

“My best friend was a Civil War buff and showed me this article in Look magazine that had a map of what the country would look like if the South had won,” Nash said. “It’s a political thriller which will reveal how things have changed politically, culturally and in terms of race.”

With the early death of Union general Ulysses S. Grant having changed the course of the war, story takes off in an alternate present day, 48 hours before the presidents of the North and South are about to ratify unification. Unbeknown to them, external forces are conspiring to assassinate the two presidents.

Leekley, who produced the CBS mini “The Blue and the Gray” about America before and during the Civil War, said Nash offered him the opportunity to do the sequel he’s always wanted.

“If it ain’t provocative, it ain’t worth doing,” said USA programming exec VP Jeff Wachtel.

“The whole idea of longform at USA is to create a dialogue outside TV. Especially as a general entertainment cable network, we better have something value added for a viewer to come to,” Wachtel added. “This is a really interesting what if?”

Nash will next exec produce new seasons of “Who Wants to Marry My Dad?” and “For Love or Money,” which he produces with 3 Ball Entertainment. Credits include “Mr. Personality,” “Meet My Folks” and the upcoming reality relationship show for TBS.

Leekley’s credits include the drama “Wolf Lake” and the animated series “Spawn.”

(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

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