FX set to kick off pro football skein

Pilot to cost $1.3 million

NEW YORK — Rupert Murdoch’s FX cable network is about to commission its first scripted drama series, a weekly hour dealing with the world of pro football players, both on and off the field.

Sterling Pacific Films is the production house for the series, called “The Pit,” the pilot of which will start shooting in Los Angeles later this month.

FX declined to comment on “The Pit,” but sources say if the pilot meets the network’s expectations, FX will commission six hourlong episodes, which could get on the schedule as early as this summer. The pilot will cost $1.3 million, and the price of each hour could range between $850,000 and $1.1 million. Those costs would be at least double those of the forthcoming Howard Stern-produced “Son of the Beach,” which was previously the most expensive original weekly show on FX.

One source says “The Pit” will be an ensemble drama featuring as many as 11 recurring characters. With pro football as the backdrop, the series will tackle such hot-button topics as racism, ageism, marital infidelity and drug and alcohol use.

Former players produce

Two of the three producers, Brett Miller and Keith Neubert, are former National Football League players. The third, Heath Kizzier, is an actor and writer. The executive producer and showrunner, Marshall Goldberg, played on the football team at Harvard. Goldberg has written for such series as “L.A. Law,” “The Paper Chase” and “Life Goes On.”

There was no information available on the cast, but the director of the pilot is Michael Grossman, who has directed episodes of “Arli$$” and the HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon.”

“The Pit” is another example of the ramping up of original production on FX, which just renewed the nightly hourlong “The X Show” magazine through April 2001. “Son of the Beach” premieres Tuesday on FX as a weekly half-hour series, along with two other weekly half-hours, “Your Favorite Girl Next Door” and “The New Movie Show with Chris Gore.”

Jim Preminger and Dean Schramm for the Preminger Agency brokered the deal for Goldberg, Miller, Neubert and Kizzier.

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