Alan Poul to direct 'Modern' pic

“Sex and the City” alum Jenny Bicks has been recruited to pen a pilot script for HBO, BermanBraun and Sony Pictures TV that is loosely inspired by the Modern Love column in the New York Times’ Sunday Styles section. Alan Poul, late of “Six Feet Under,” is attached to direct the project, tentatively titled “Modern Love.”

Pilot will revolve around the fictionalized male editor of the column and his family life as he endures a messy divorce, a strained relationship with his teenage daughter and a difficult return to the world of dating. The stories and personalities from the Times’ column will be woven in the series’ storylines as the editor deals with finding writers and picking out stories from the thousands of submissions that the newspaper receives.

Although the project will draw inevitable comparisons to “Sex and the City,” which was inspired by the exploits of New York Observer columnist Candace Bushnell, it will have a markedly different tone.

“It’s going to look at the question of what love and relationships mean in modern terms,” Bicks told Daily Variety. For Bicks, the project is a milestone that marks her “taking the big leap of writing a male lead.”

Bicks is getting started on the script for the half-hour, single-camera project. She hopes to be able to set the editor’s work life at the New York Times by name, but details are still being finalized.

BermanBraun optioned the rights to the Modern Love column last year (Daily Variety, Sept. 9). Company principals Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun courted Bicks and Poul for the adaptation and brought it to HBO. Bicks has an overall deal with Sony Pictures TV, which brought the studio into the project as a production partner.

Bicks recently finished penning the script for an Ellen DeGeneres’ comedy “Mother Nature,” which is set up at Walden Media. After she finishes the “Modern Love” script, she’ll take up the reins on another HBO project, a redo of the pilot for “Washingtonienne,” exec produced by Bicks’ former “Sex and the City” colleague, Sarah Jessica Parker.

The HBO deal marks the first TV project to be set up through the New York Times’ representation pact with ICM, which has generated 17 other feature development projects since the Times signed with ICM in 2006.

Bicks and Poul are repped by UTA.

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