Cooper On HBO’s Abandoned “Shadow Country”

Along with the many shows that have become cultural institutions, HBO is also famous for leaving a pile of dead projects in their wake – some never made it out of development, others were shot or well into production before the plug was pulled.

In recent years David Fincher’s remake of “Utopia,” Steve McQueen’s “Codes of Conduct” and John Curran’s “Lewis and Clark” all died on the vine, and now “Out of the Furnace” and “Crazy Heart” director Scott Cooper has revealed one of his projects at HBO isn’t going to see the light of day – “Shadow Country”.

Speaking with Collider, the filmmaker revealed that he collaborated with “Deadwood” creator David Milch and actor Jeff Bridges on said TV series for HBO based on Peter Matthiessen’s novel of the same name. That series would have followed a Florida sugar cane planter and alleged outlaw who was killed by his neighbors in 1910:

“I will say that the writing that Mr. Milch presented me was as masterful as anything I’ve ever read. This was set up at HBO, and then there was a regime change and the new regime didn’t quite see the merit of what I thought would’ve been one of the great cinematic experiences.

But those things happen. So I certainly am interested in that because you can tell a story in a manner in which you can greatly develop characters that sometimes is difficult in a two-hour timeframe, and I think that the right piece will come along yet again. But that was something I was quite excited about that Jeff Bridges and David Milch were as well, and I think it would’ve been quite exceptional.

It was some of the best writing that I think I’ve ever encountered, and it happened because I was a longtime fan of the novel and Mr. Milch asked me to go to lunch and said that he was a big fan of ‘Out of the Furnace’ and he thought that he would like to write something for me, and I said well this is it.”

Cooper is currently developing several projects including the Guillermo del Toro-produced “Antlers” and the MLK murder drama “Hellhound on His Trail”. Timing wise the regime change he’s referring to was likely when president of programming Michael Lombardo departed and was replaced by current HBO chief Casey Bloys.