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FX lock drama pilot helmers

Johnson, Patterson ink for 'The Barn,' 'Dope'

FX has hired thesp-helmer Clark Johnson and vet helmer John Patterson to direct the cable net’s two drama pilots vying for a series order, “The Barn” and “Dope,” respectively.

One of the two is expected to get picked up in August, FX prexy of entertainment Kevin Reilly told Daily Variety. Both are skedded to go into production in the second week of June.

A police drama in development from “Sopranos” scribe Jim Manos, announced during the Television Critics Assn. tour in January, has not received a production order at this point (Daily Variety, Jan. 25). Project, a crime story from the crooks’ perspectives, remains in development under the title “The Criminal Mind.”

“The Barn,” meanwhile, is being written and exec produced by Shawn Ryan, who will serve as showrunner.

Scott Brazil, who co-exec produced “Gideon’s Crossing” and wrote for “Hill Street Blues,” has joined “The Barn” as an exec producer.

Deal for Johnson, who recently directed acclaimed HBO pic “Boycott” and is known as a thesp for his role on former NBC series “Homicide: Life on the Street,” was brokered by his agents at UTA.

UTA also packaged “Dope.”

Script for ensemble police drama “The Barn” is in part inspired by Los Angeles’ Rampart Division scandal, Reilly said. It’s the story of a highly effective police department serving a tough part of town, where half the cops are dirty.

“The struggle between good and evil is going on within the police force itself,” Reilly said of the storyline.

Vet director John Patterson, who has directed multiple episodes of “The Sopranos,” will direct the pilot for drug-running drama “Dope.”

Chris Brancato and Bert Salke are the project’s creators and exec producers through their newly formed Brancato/Salke Prods. (Daily Variety, April 5).

Reilly said that while scripted TV is often considered a writer’s medium, he’s pursuing pilot directors with unique p.o.v.s, like Patterson and Johnson, because they can ultimately be the architect of a series’ style.

“If you look at the original pilot of ‘Law & Order,’ which John (Patterson) directed, you see that the show’s gritty, hand-held look was there from the start,” Reilly said. “Now it seems familiar, but he set that tone. He’s a subtle stylist.”

He added that with “Boycott,” Johnson was able to avoid a common mistake in period pieces: sacrificing strong perfs for high style.

“I was blown away by ‘Boycott.’ Clark captured moving performances, and it was a stylish, interesting, contemporary take,” Reilly said.

FX also has a few comedy pilots that have been shot and are in consideration for a series order. Among them is “Bad News, Mr. Swanson,” starring Frank Whaley.

A decision on a new comedy series is expected within about a month.