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Michael Kenneth Williams Cast as Lead in Two Cable Series

It’s a big day for Michael Kenneth Williams.

“The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire” star has been cast as a lead in Sundance TV’s “Hap and Leonard,” plus IFC’s “The Spoils Before Dying,” alongside Will Ferrell, both cablers announced Monday.

In “Hap and Leonard,” an original series from Sundance TV that tells the story of an unexpected friendship between an unlikely duo, Williams will co-star as Leonard Pine.

Williams’ character, Leonard, is an openly gay black Vietnam war vet who struggles with anger issues, and was raised by his homophobic uncle, causing him to lean on Hap — a white, working-class laborer — for support in the non-progressive rural South of the 1980s. Hap (who has yet to be cast) spent time in prison for refusing to be drafted and serve in the Vietnam War. Now in his 30s, he works on a plantation picking roses with little financial means, but still has Leonard, his lifelong best friend and confidant.

The drama is produced by Sundance Studios, and created by director-writer Jim Mickle and writer Nick Damici. The duo has adapted Joe Lansdale’s “Hap and Leonard” novels, novellas and short stories of the same name for this series. Lansdale will also serve as a co-exec producer on this project, along with Lowell Northrop and exec producers Nick Shumaker, Jeremy Platt and consulting producer Linda Moran.

Sundance TV ordered six hourlong episodes of “Hap and Leonard.” The series, set to bow in early 2016, marks the net’s third original scripted series, following “Rectify” and “The Red Road.”

Williams has also been cast as the lead in “The Spoils Before Dying,” produced by Funny or Die with exec producers Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Nate Young, and writers Matt Piedmont and Andrew Steele. Piedmont will direct.

He’ll star as pianist Rock Banyon, who becomes the prime suspect when his lead singer and occasional lover is found murdered in a car with another man. Determined to prove his innocent, he goes on a quest in the pulp-noir murder mystery, set in the seedy underbelly of L.A.’s jazz scene.

Ferrell will also reprise his “Spoils of Babylon” role, as alcoholic author Eric Jonrosh who opens and closes each episode.

The six-part comedy is currently in production in Los Angeles, and is set to debut this summer on IFC.

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