Sam Shepard to Star in EPIX's First Original Drama Series Pilot Tough Trade Produced by Lionsgate
Shooting Begins December 3 in Nashville
NEW YORK & SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Acclaimed actor and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard is set to star in Lionsgate's "Tough Trade," the first original series pilot for EPIXTM, the new multi-platform entertainment service from Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), its Paramount Pictures unit, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) and Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) which launched October 30, 2009. With a creative team led by executive producer and showrunner Jenji Kohan ("Weeds"), the pilot was written by creator/co-executive producer Chris Offutt ("True Blood," "Weeds") and will be directed by Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Rendition, Tsotsi). Shooting begins December 3 in Nashville. The announcement was made today by Mark Greenberg, president and CEO of EPIX, and Kevin Beggs, Lionsgate's president of television programming and production.
Shepard (Brothers, The Assassination of Jesse James, The Right Stuff) will portray the patriarch of the Tucker family in this provocative, contemporary one-hour drama about a three-generation Nashville music dynasty whose penchant for drink, debauchery and divorce has left them both morally corrupt and on the verge of bankruptcy. The family with little left is pinning its hopes on its former black sheep, a budding country star turned alternative rock heart throb. "Tough Trade" brings viewers behind the scenes and into the living room to expose the tragic and sometimes comedic secrets, scandals and sorrows of this unforgettable American family.
"Sam Shepard is the ideal actor to star in 'Tough Trade' and we are proud to have him be a part of EPIX's first original series," said Greenberg. "With Jenji Kohan as the executive producer and the incredible team at Lionsgate, we have no doubt that 'Tough Trade' is going to be a great story that launches our original programming line-up on EPIX. We are excited to begin production in Nashville and look forward to showing this pilot episode on EPIX in 2010."
"It's a tremendous coup to have Sam leading our cast," said Beggs. "He's a brilliant multi-talented artist who will bring great authenticity to the project."
Shepard is a celebrated playwright and actor. His numerous writing credits include True West and the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Buried Child, and he's received critical acclaim for his acting performances in such films as The Right Stuff, for which he earned an Oscar nomination, Black Hawk Down, The Notebook and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford with Brad Pitt. He will soon be seen in Lionsgate's Brothers opposite Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman, directed by Jim Sheridan. His newest book, Day out of Days, which is a collection of tales set mainly in the imaginative landscape of the West, will be published in January 2010 by Knopf. Also an accomplished musician, Shepard was the drummer for the 1960s rock band The Holy Modal Rounders.
Chris Offutt is the creator, writer and co-executive producer of "Tough Trade." He is an award-winning novelist and short story writer, recently serving as executive story editor on HBO's "True Blood," as well as a writer and co-producer on the fifth season of Lionsgate's hit comedy "Weeds."
Jenji Kohan ("Weeds") and Sean and Bryan Furst (The Matador, The Cooler) are executive producers. The show was developed by Furst Films, under the company's first look deal with Lionsgate TV.
Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) is the leading next generation studio with a strong and diversified presence in the production and distribution of motion pictures, television programming, home entertainment, family entertainment, video-on-demand and digitally delivered content. The Company has built a strong television presence in production of prime time cable and broadcast network series, distribution and syndication of programming through Debmar-Mercury, and an array of channel platform assets. Lionsgate has nearly 20 television series airing or scheduled to air on 11 different networks from its in-house production operations and through distribution by Debmar-Mercury. Its programming roster is headed by such critically-acclaimed and groundbreaking shows as Mad Men, Weeds, Nurse Jackie, Crash, Tyler Perry's House of Payne, Meet The Browns, The Wendy Williams Show and Paris Hilton's My New BFF. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 12,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as the foundation for the growth of the Company's core businesses. The Lionsgate brand remains synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.
EPIX, a joint venture between Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), its Paramount Pictures unit, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) and Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), is a next-generation multiplatform premium entertainment channel, video-on-demand and online service launched on October 30, 2009. EPIX is currently distributed by Verizon FiOS on Channel 395 in SD and Channel 895 in HD and will be distributed by other partners. With access to more than 15,000 motion pictures spanning the vast libraries of the partner studios, EPIX will deliver films from Paramount, Paramount Vantage, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies released theatrically on or after January 1, 2008 and MGM, United Artists and Lionsgate titles released theatrically on or after January 1, 2009, which will be available exclusively to its subscribers. In addition, it will carry up to 22 Roadside Attractions films slated for theatrical release in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and up to 20 of Samuel Goldwyn's films slated for theatrical release in 2010 and 2011.
Providing a powerful entertainment experience with more feature films on demand and online and more HD movies than any other service, EPIX will air new Hollywood titles plus classic feature films, original series, and music and comedy specials. It is the only premium service providing its entire monthly line-up on video-on-demand, online and on the linear channel. Further, EPIX has made the commitment to deliver the industry's most expansive online collection of movies, making more than 3,000 titles available online to subscribers via its enhanced service EPIX Megaplex.
The joint venture controls all rights to EPIX's programming and Viacom provides operational support, including marketing and affiliate services through its MTV Networks division.
Follow the EPIX twitter feed at http://www.twitter.com/EpixHD.