If television producers have their way, 2014 could be the year Miami finally gets some real love -- not just "reality" love -- on the small screen.
News broke this week that FX has ordered a pilot of a potential new TV series titled Hoke, starring Paul Giamatti and based on the novels of Charles Willeford. It's one of several scripted TV shows set in Miami that could debut in 2014 -- shows that could serve as a much-needed antidote to the trashy reality TV projects that have taken over town in recent years.
According to Deadline Hollywood, Hoke will feature Giamatti as Hoke Mosely, a "hardboiled and possibly insane homicide detective" living in 1985-era Miami. The "darkly comedic drama" will draw inspiration from the Willeford novels Sideswipe, New Hope For The Dead and The Way We Die Now. The script was written by Scott Frank, who has experience with crime novel-to-Hollywood projects with a Florida tie; he wrote the screenplay for Get Shorty, based on the novel by the recently deceased, sometimes Florida resident Elmore Leonard.
Hoke joins Down Lo, a series focused on present-day Miami's sports, fashion, and music circles, and an "Untitled Miami Athletes Project" helmed by Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, both in development for HBO, in the category of scripted television series set in Miami that could air as soon as 2014.
Cause for optimism? If you're a fan of seeing your hometown -- or, at least, Hollywood's version of it -- fictionalized on your TV screen, definitely. Existing scripted series set in Miami have been dropping like enormous, tropical flies; the hilariously noir CSI: Miami was cancelled in May 2012, Starz' Magic City was canceled last month, and Showtime's serial killer drama Dexter will end its eight-season run with its series finale on Sept. 22.
But in the wake of scripted series, Miami-based reality shows have proliferated. From Real Housewives of Miami to South Beach Tow to more recent additions like Cash Dome, "unscripted" TV shows are thriving in Miami like so many feral cats. Even reality franchises based in other parts of the country can't resist vacationing in South Florida. Miami has been the home of two Kardashian spin-offs, a season of Jersey Shore, and is currently hosting the filming of Big Ang's new show, Miami Monkey.
Your expectations are for the new pack of scripted series headed to Miami may not be high; the summary of Down Lo, as we reported earlier, sounds like a boring recitation of Miami stereotypes. But they've gotta be more entertaining than the boring recitation of Miami stereotypes presented in the reality series that film in this town. Hell, at the very least, they'll employ professional writers, so we won't have to listen to another chorus of "I'm not here to make friends."
Plus, there are plenty of reasons to expect these new series to be genuinely good shows. HBO is arguably at the peak of its success so far, producing award-winning and audience-captivating shows like Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire -- more of them than at any point in its history as a network. Hoke's Giamatti is an Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning actor. And according to FX's president of original programming, Eric Schrier, Hoke will follow in the footsteps of its critically acclaimed series Justified which, like Get Shorty, is based on the writings of Elmore Leonard.
"Like Elmore Leonard, Charles Willeford is one of the most deeply respected writers of crime fiction," he said in a statement, "and he created a wholly original and colorful lead character in Detective Hoke Mosely. Scott Frank delivered a magnificent script and we are honored that Paul Giamatti will bring Hoke to life."
Fingers crossed, Miami.
Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.
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