HBO loves ‘Thug’ life

Epps project has been in development since fall

HBO has greenlit series pilot “The Unsuccessful Thug” from comedian Mike Epps.

Single-camera comedy centers on Epps’ early days as a small-time criminal. Project has been in development since fall (Daily Variety, Sept. 25).

Epps will exec produce and star in the series. Brad Kaaya, who wrote the pilot script, will also exec produce with Russell Simmons and Stan Lathan.

Before Epps appeared in films such as “All About the Benjamins” and the “Friday” sequels, he was busted for drug dealing and gun charges. He told Daily Variety in September that the series would not be a glorification of those days.

“I felt like I was a good guy doing bad stuff. But some of those gangster situations I got myself into were funny as shit, as were the characters,” Epps said. “It’ll be me and this young guy, my alter ego, going through this stuff.”

Among other comedy projects in development at HBO are “Washingtonienne,” from Sarah Jessica Parker; “Bert & Dickie,” about an odd-couple standup comedy team, from Owen Wilson; and an untitled project from Cary Brokaw based on the memoirs of food writer Ruth Reichl.

“Thug” is the only comedy pilot in production at the paybox.

Epps exec produced and starred in “The Honeymooners.” Other film credits include “Roll Bounce” and “The Fighting Temptations.”