Laura Linney is tackling terminal illness for Showtime.
Thesp will star in and exec produce a dark comedy tentatively titled “The C Word,” in which Linney’s character is diagnosed with cancer.
A pilot has been ordered and production will begin in the fall.
Half-hour skein is created and written by Darlene Hunt, who will serve as exec producer with Linney, Neal Moritz and Vivian Cannon.
Series will be produced by Original Film and Sony Pictures Television.
“Laura Linney is in that rare echelon of truly gifted actresses who fully embody the characters they play and we are honored to welcome her to Showtime,” said Robert Greenblatt, the cabler’s entertainment topper. “Cancer is not usually the subject of a half-hour comedy, but Laura saw what we did in this complex show — a woman who gets a wake-up call that causes her to shake up her life and family. She will no doubt make this character both heartbreaking and disarmingly funny.”
Greenblatt told Daily Variety that he had approached Linney in the past, but without success.
“Every year we would knock on her door and the door wasn’t answered. We approached her this time and told her we we think this is a great role,” he explained. “She read the script and instantly liked the material. We got the sense that she was open to something great. It was not her agenda to find a TV show this year but she said let me open my sphere to some TV ideas.”
Greenblatt said Showtime is upping its original programming palette and expects to announce other new shows in the near future.
“We’re quietly purising a few other things that will have name talent attached.”
Said Linney: “How one lives fully while being tested by the unpredictability of life, and what one learns in the process, is always filled with endless possibilities for an actor.”
Next up for Linney, who is repped by ICM, is “The Other Man,” which gets a theatrical release Sept. 11. She co-stars with Liam Neeson; the two worked together on “Kinsey.”
Hunt is a writer and thesp who is a member of the Groundlings comedy troupe. She’s been a consulting producer on CW’s “90210,” and has written for such skeins as “Good Morning Miami” and “Will & Grace.” She’s repped by UTA.