Coming off of his second Best Director win at this year's Academy Awards ceremony, Ang Lee has already picked out his next project: his television directorial debut. In the wake of Life of Pi's awards season success (you can read our review and our interview), Lee plans on shooting the pilot episode of Tyrant, FX's upcoming social/political drama series.
Tyrant comes straight out of the minds of Gideon Raff and Howard Gordon, the executive producers on Showtime's critically acclaimed counter-terrorism thriller Homeland, as well as Craight Wright, the writer-producer for HBO's Six Feet Under. Raff is being credited with creating Tyrant and will be shouldering writing duties while Gordon and Wright develop it; additionally, Wright will serve as showrunner if the program receives a series order.
Tyrant details the lives of an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation; the setting should prove comfortably familiar for Raff and Gordon as it shares some of the same territory occupied by Homeland. Fox 21 and FX Productions will produce, while the pilot hails from Teakwood Lane, the shingle Gordon has set up at 20th Century Fox. John Landgraf, president of FX Networks, made the announcement and enthusiastically expressed his admiration for Lee's talents.
In Landgraf's own words:
"Ang Lee has demonstrated time and again an ability to present characters with such depth and specificity that they reveal the universal human condition [...] No one could be a more perfect filmmaker to bring Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff, and Craig Wright's Tyrant to indelible life."
Lee's involvement with Tyrant puts him on an ever-growing list of names - Martin Scorsese (Boardwalk Empire), Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead), Gus van Sant (Boss), and Jonathan Demme (Enlightened), not to mention less visible directors like Neil Marshall (Game of Thrones) that have made the jump from films to TV. If nothing else, his decision emphasizes the simple truth that television is becoming a more attractive platform for established filmmakers, in no small part due to the increased freedom in storytelling choices and character development the format affords directors. Given Lee's diversity as an artist, he should be able to make the transition between film and television with ease.
He's also very likely to generate an enormous amount of publicity for Tyrant- after all, what better way to promote a gestating television series than through name association with a recent Oscar winner? Then again, Gordon and Raff have enjoyed enough accolades courtesy of their numerous Emmy and Golden Globe wins that they can sell Tyrant on their own. So what Lee really offers the show is filmmaking gravitas, and it'll be exciting to see him leave his artistic signature on the show's first episode.
Of course, the news resolves any questions about Lee's immediate future - with production slated to start this summer, it's clear that his Cleopatra picture won't be going forward anytime soon, and he's going to have to put Gods and Kings on hold. Does that sound like a good deal to you, Screen Ranters? Or would you prefer that Lee stay away from television and stick to the cinema?
Production on Tyrant is tentatively schedule to start in the summer of 2013.
Source: TV By the Numbers