Ball back in HBO’s court

Cabler calls on 'Six Feet Under' creator for new vamp skein

“Six Feet Under” creator-exec producer Alan Ball is raising the dead again at HBO.

Pair have struck an exclusive two-year overall pact that calls for Ball to develop series for the paybox. First up is a drama based on Charlaine Harris’ “Southern Vampire” series of bestselling novels.

Project is set in a world where vampires and humans co-exist after the development of synthetic blood. First book, “Dead Until Dark,” revolves around a waitress in rural Louisiana who meets the man of her dreams only to find out he’s a vampire with a bad reputation.

“It’s not a high-concept pitch,” Ball said. “Charlaine has created such a rich environment that’s very funny and at the same time very scary. I bought the book on impulse and I just couldn’t put it down.”

Ball, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for “American Beauty,” shuttered production on “Six Feet” after its fifth season (Daily Variety, Nov. 8). He will exec produce, write and direct the pilot for the vampire drama.

HBO entertainment prexy Carolyn Strauss said she’d been sure Ball would leave the television world for movies after he wrapped “Six Feet,” and she was surprised and grateful that he came back to the network with yet another passion project.

“Alan really fell in love with the books,” HBO entertainment prexy Carolyn Strauss said. “At its heart, the books are a metaphor for difference and outsiders and fitting in. That’s Alan’s bailiwick and what he writes so well about.”

“I wouldn’t consider doing this series with just any network,” Ball said. “Ultimately, I have a great relationship with HBO. They give me a great deal of autonomy, and they really know how to market shows.”

HBO has gotten in the habit of locking up key behind-the-scenes talent in mega-overall TV deals. Others who have inked with the network include Michael Patrick King, Sarah Jessica Parker, David Milch, David Chase, Terence Winter and Doug Ellin.

Ball has just finished scripting “Towelhead,” based on Alicia Erian’s novel about the sexual awakening of an Arab-American teenage girl, which he plans to make his feature directing debut. Scribe said he’s also sitting on two spec scripts and recently workshopped a new play, “All That I Will Ever Be.”

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