HBO’s beat goes on

Cabler picks up hip-hop, soldier skeins

HBO is teaming with feature scribe Michael Elliot (“Like Mike”) and hip-hop impresario Andre Harrell on a one-hour drama series about the high life of a fictional rap mogul.

In addition, paybox has ordered up “Operation: Desert Sands,” a half-hour comedy project from Dave Thomas (“Grace Under Fire”) and Tom Hedrick.

Similar to “Entourage,” Elliot’s project, titled “Fabulous,” will follow a multimillionaire and his close circle of friends as they sail through the world of showbiz while navigating the rough underbelly of hip-hop.

Elliot will write and exec produce the project, currently in development, with Harrell. Also exec producing are 3 Arts’ Stephanie Davis, Steven Greener and Howard Klein.

Elliot said the lead character is based on such real-life hyphenates as Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Damon Dash.

“He’s yachting at St. Bart’s one day and dealing with the perils of hip-hop culture the next,” Elliot said. “Hip-hop is a street culture much different than anything else. When you’ve got trouble, you can’t go call a lawyer or call 911. That’s why I’m glad to be working with Andre — this is the world he lives in.”

“The characters are going to deal with managers who’ve spent eight years in jail but are now producing some of the hottest acts in rap,” Elliot added.

Scribe has the feature “Just Wright” set up at Disney with Queen Latifah attached to star, and is at work on a longform project for VH1 based on “Faust.”

“Operation: Desert Sands,” set up at HBO Independent Prods., is based on the true story of 300 Army engineers sent to Iraq in 2003 to dispose of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. The group was later transferred to a remote military base in Iraq without any orders and nothing to do — which is where the series picks up.

Thomas, Hedrick and David Tochterman will exec produce.