Mann to direct the hourlong pilot from 'Deadwood' scribe

Michael Mann is in talks to direct “Luck,” an hourlong HBO series pilot about horse racing culture created by David Milch.

Milch, who wrote the series pilot, last brought “John From Cincinnati” and “Deadwood” to HBO.

Milch will be exec producer, along with former HBO programming topper Carolyn Strauss and Mann. The plan is to shoot in April, most likely at Santa Anita Race Track.

Getting to the starting gate is a major achievement for Milch, who has seen horse racing from every angle, including owning close to 100 horses and winning several Breeders’ Cup races.

“The pilot is about a bunch of intersecting lives in the world of horse racing,” Milch told Daily Variety. “It’s a subject which has engaged and some might say has compelled me for 50 years. I’ve joked that if I just can make $25 million on this show, I’ll be even on research expenses. I find it as complicated and engaging a special world as any I’ve ever encountered, not only in what happens in the clubhouse and the grandstand, but also on the backside of the track, where the training is done and where they house the horses.”

The lead character, not yet cast, is Ace Bernstein, whom Milch described as “a guy versed in all the permutations of finance, elicit and otherwise. When he is released from jail for securities violations, he resumes his place at the race track, where he is a figure of long-standing repute.”

Mann, who is close to a deal to direct, sparked to the Milch script, and also from the feedback he got from Martin Scorsese and the experience he had directing the “Boardwalk Empire” pilot for HBO. Mann’s last directing foray on the small screen was 1987’s “L.A. Takedown,” a precursor for Mann’s crime-film classic “Heat.” He and Milch have a long friendship that goes back to the days when Milch was running “Hill Street Blues” and Mann was doing the same with “Miami Vice.”

Bonnie Timmerman, who often collaborates with Mann, will cast the series.

“I am feeling very lucky to have Michael direct this and am champing at the bit, to borrow a few horse racing phrases,” Milch said.

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