Helmer sets country club date

David O. Russell is tackling television for the first time, teaming with Josh Lieb (“The Simpsons”) for an hourlong dramedy set up at FX via Sony Pictures Television.

Pariah partners Gavin Polone and Jamie Tarses will exec produce the untitled project, a sort of “Upstairs, Downstairs” set in a Los Angeles country club. Russell (“Three Kings”) is set to direct the pilot; he’ll co-write and exec produce with Lieb.

FX won the rights to the project in a competitive bidding situation with at least one other network. While it’s still early in the development process — first outline for the project is just being finalized — the show is seen as a potential companion for the cabler’s hit “Nip/Tuck.”

Tarses said the Russell-Lieb concept “takes the idea of a traditional soap opera and turns it on its ear” by using the setting of a country club to explore the idea of class in America.

Polone said he and Russell first talked about Russell’s idea for the show nearly three years ago, while the helmer was cutting “I Heart Huckabees.” It wasn’t until more recently, around the time Lieb came onboard, that the project started moving forward again.

“It’s David O. Russell, so it’s very funny, but underneath it all are very real issues about the American dream, what it is and how does money equate to happiness,” Polone told Daily Variety.

FX exec VP of original programming Nick Grad said Russell and Lieb had come up with a concept that has “the architecture of a great soap” that should mesh well with the cabler’s programming ambitions.

What’s more, ” ‘Three Kings’ is a movie we reference all the time around here,” Grad said. “The tone of his movies is that sort of dark comedy you can see in the shows we put on.”

To help add a layer of authenticity to the Endeavor-packaged project, Buster McCoy — Russell’s tennis teacher at the Riviera Country Club — will serve as a co-producer on the pilot.

This is Polone’s second stab at a project for FX. A few years ago, he produced “Bad News, Mr. Swanson,” a cancer-themed half-hour that ended in the pilot stage.

Polone and Tarses are exec producing the new TBS comedy “My Boys.” Additionally, Polone is in production on the HBO skein “Tell Me You Love Me” and the Touchstone feature “Gustave.”

Lieb’s other credits include “NewsRadio” and the upcoming Rob Schneider pic “Big Stan.”

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