HBO in talks for Viola Davis, Dee Rees project

Thesp eying half-hour project as a starring vehicle

As “The Help” rides high at the box office, thesp Viola Davis is turning her attention to the smallscreen, shepherding a possible half-hour vehicle for herself at HBO.

Pay cabler is close to finalizing deals for the untitled project Davis is developing with “Pariah” helmer Dee Rees, scribe Margaret Nagle and John Lesher.

Series is said to be a look at the corruption of a city through the eyesof the headmaster of an exclusive prep school who has her eye on bigger things. Davis would play the headmaster, though sources cautioned that there is no deal yet in place for her to star.

Rees is penning the script and co-writing the story with Nagle, an HBO vet who mostly recently wrote for the network’s period drama “Boardwalk Empire.” Rees may also direct the pilot once the final deals are hammered out.

Davis, Nagle, Lesher and his producing partner Adam Kassan would serve as exec producers, with Rees as a co-exec producer.

Rees made a mark at this year’s Sundance fest with the LGBT-themed drama “Pariah,” which was scooped up by Focus Features (Daily Variety, Jan. 31).

In addition to “The Help,” Davis will be back on the bigscreen in December in Warner Bros.’ “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”

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