'True Blood' creator leads herd of dramaturgs

Horror movies have Eli Roth and his Splat Pack. Comedies have the Judd Apatow crew. But is there a clique for pensive drama?

Judging by a new crop of pics and TV series, it just might be the gang from Alan Ball‘s “Six Feet Under.”

Writers and directors cultivated by Ball on his HBO mortuary drama are starting to break out. Scribe Craig Wright is behind ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money.” Fellow scribe Nancy Oliver unveiled her first movie at Toronto last week, the offbeat love story “Lars and the Real Girl,” an MGM release about a man (Ryan Gosling) who falls for a doll. And “SFU” director Jeremy Podeswa opened the fest with his frosh theatrical effort, the Holocaust pic “Fugitive Pieces.”

Ball himself turned out at Toronto, premiering and selling his directorial debut, the immigrant drama “Nothing Is Private,” to Warner Independent and Red Envelope.

“Six Feet Under” shut down a little more than two years ago, but its creators say the show’s culture prepped them well for their own dramatic endeavors.

“If there’s something that unites us, it’s an aesthetic that’s informed by the realization that we’re all on this planet for a very short amount of time,” Podeswa says.

Ball and collaborator Alan Poul fostered that aesthetic, hiring writers not on the basis of a spec script — which he says only indicates whether a writer can sound like somebody else — but on the strength of an original screenplay, pilot or short story.

But there’s a catch to hiring young talent with burgeoning careers: They’re not around to work on your next show.

With so many of the writers and directors moving on to different projects, Ball is bringing along only one “Six Feet Under” scribe (Oliver) to his upcoming HBO vampire series “True Blood,” for which he is location-scouting in Louisiana.

“Part of the reason is that I wanted to start fresh. I didn’t want to re-create ‘Six Feet Under,’ ” says Ball, who notes that the supernaturalism in “Blood” means the show will have more popcorn elements than his previous HBO effort.

“Plus,” he says, “I don’t think I could afford that staff anymore.”

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