'Tara' based on producer's idea

It’s Showtime for Spielberg.

Pay cabler is stepping up development of “The United States of Tara,” a half-hour single-camera laffer from DreamWorks Television that’s based on an original Steven Spielberg idea.

Show will revolve around an ordinary-seeming wife and mother of two teenage kids — who also happens to suffer from dissociative identity (formerly multiple personality) disorder.

Diablo Cody, the feature writer behind Jason Reitman’s upcoming Fox Searchlight pic “Juno,” wrote the pilot script and will exec produce, along with DreamWorks TV’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. As is often the case in TV, Spielberg will decide what sort of credit to take later in the development process.

“Tara” is believed to be Spielberg’s first project for Showtime during the DreamWorks era, as well as one of the few half-hour TV ideas he’s set up during his career.

Showtime entertainment prexy Robert Greenblatt and DreamWorks aren’t talking about “Tara,” but people familiar with the script said the half-hour will have a seriocomic tone not unlike that of the cabler’s critically praised “Weeds.” Skein will explore how a dysfunctional family, including Tara’s working-class husband, copes with her various personalities, which emerge when she’s under stress.

Pilot seg is expected to show off at least two of Tara’s alter egos, a lascivious teen girl and a macho adult man. More personalities will emerge throughout the life of the series. Producers envision the title role as a potential tour de force for the right thesp.

Cody has turned in a first draft of the project. Showtime made a premium script purchase for the project and will decide whether to move forward as early as this summer.

DreamWorks TV is in production on the ABC pilot “Carpoolers,” starring Jerry O’Connell, Faith Ford and Fred Goss, and the CW hour “I’m Paige Armstrong,” from Rod Lurie. Studio also recently landed a renewal for “Las Vegas,” the Peacock hour it co-produces with NBC U TV Studio.

Showtime, meanwhile, is enjoying some of its best critical notices ever with shows such as “Weeds,” “Dexter” and “Brotherhood.”

Next up: an untitled half-hour starring David Duchovny in his first series since “The X-Files.” Thesp will play Hank Moody, a divorced writer raising his 16-year-old daughter while carrying a torch for his ex-girlfriend (Natascha McElhone). In addition to his personal and professional issues, he’s got an even bigger problem: He’s battling addiction on several fronts.

Cabler ordered a pilot for the half-hour single camera comedy project earlier this winter (Daily Variety, Nov. 10). Tom Kapinos wrote the pilot, which Stephen Hopkins (“24″) directed. Kapinos, Hopkins and Duchovny will exec produce, with Melanie Green on board as co-exec producer. Showtime will self-produce the still-untitled skein, briefly known as “Californication.”

Greenblatt, who greenlit the project late Wednesday, said the Duchovny skein will further the net’s brand for “be perfectly at home in the comedy space we’ve carved out with ‘Weeds.’”

Skein reps a reunion of Duchovny and Greenblatt: Latter exec was at Fox during the early days of “X-Files.” Greenblatt said he was happy to be “back in business” with the actor but that “anyone expecting Agent Mulder to resurface will be pleasantly surprised to see a completely fresh character who is deeply flawed, yet funny, complicated and utterly human.”

Duchovny comedy is expected to bow this summer, most likely paired with a new crop of “Weeds.”

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