Pact includes deal with William Faulkner estate

David Milch is staying put at HBO, cutting a new multiyear pact with the pay cabler and an unusual agreement with the estate of William Faulkner.

The deal gives Milch’s Redboard Prods. rights to develop projects based on the legendary author’s canon of novels and other works. HBO has first-look rights on any projects that arise from the deal.

Milch’s latest HBO skein, horseracing drama “Luck,” bows Jan. 29, though the net will sneak the pilot Dec. 11 immediately following the season finale of “Boardwalk Empire.”

Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and

John Ortiz star in the ensemble skein about owners, trainers and gamblers who inhabit the racetrack. Milch has long been an avid horseracing fan, having owned several thoroughbreds, including a Breeders’ Cup winner.

“You have a special investment and duty of care to get it as right as you can,” Milch told Variety. “You should say that about every piece of work you do, but it’s particularly the case with subject matter you love.”

“We are especially pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with one of the industry’s most talented contemporary writers,” said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo. “We know that whatever David brings to the HBO table will be exciting and innovative.”

Under the deal with the William Faulkner Literary Estate, Milch will partner with Lee Caplin, executor of the estate and CEO of Picture Entertainment Corp., to choose which works to develop, package and produce (all of the author’s 19 novels and 125 short stories are available under the agreement with the exception of those currently contracted for with other parties). Milch and Caplin will act as exec producers of those projects, with Milch serving as executive writer in charge of adapting the works.

Deal gives HBO an exclusive first opportunity to finance, produce and distribute the projects as movies, miniseries and series. Olivia Milch will serve as coordinating producer on the projects.

Milch said there is a strong possibility that his first post-”Luck” HBO project would be related to Faulkner’s material in some way.

“Faulkner, for me, is really the defining voice of American literature in the 20th century,” Milch said. “For my own experience, he, in large measure, is what brought me to literature. This opportunity came up largely through happenstance — a relationship that my daugther generated with the attorney in charge of the Faulkner literary estate — and I felt so lucky that HBO has been so supportive in bringing it about.”

The Mississippi-born Faulkner won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 and two Pulitzer Prizes. In addition to penning his famous novels, he wrote six films, five of which were directed by Howard Hawks.

The pay cabler and Milch have teamed on two previous series: the Western “Deadwood” and surf noir skein “John From Cincinnati.” Milch is currently developing the feature film “Heavy Rain” for Warner Bros., for which he is about to turn in a script.

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