“My Name Is Earl” star cast as lead in Clooney’s TNT pilot.
“Delta Blues” will star Lee as a Memphis cop who lives with his mother and moonlights as an Elvis impersonator.
The hourlong project is being produced by Clooney, Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures and Warner Horizon Television. “Cold Case” staffer Liz M. Garcia will write the pilot script, and executive producer along with Clooney and Heslov.
The TNT announcement adds to a hectic week for Lee, who has also signed on to develop a live-action show for another Turner Networks-owned channel, Cartoon Network. He’s also directing the independent film "Get Back," which will revolve around two music buffs who travel back in time.
Last spring, Lee came reasonably close to becoming a fixture on TNT sibling channel TBS, when parent company Turner Networks and Fox discussed moving former NBC Thursday-night comedy “My Name Is Earl” to the cable channel.
Lee had starred as rehabilitated nerdowell Earl Hickey on the show for four seasons, and it was still drawing decent ratings last season when NBC decided to move the series, produced outside its corporate family, off the schedule.
Ultimately, however, series producer Gregory Thomas Garcia decided the show couldn’t move forward on a basic-cable production budget.
For Lee, the reduced episode commitment of a cable series will enable him to pursue an ambitious upcoming theatrical slate.
In addition to signing on to direct "Get Back," he recently completed production on Kevin Smith’s “A Couple of Dicks,” which co-stars Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan.
Over the summer, he Lee filmed Kevin Pollack’s independent thriller “Columbus Circle.
And he’s following up his starring role in Fox’s blockbuster family film “Alvin and the Chipmunks” ($350 million in worldwide box office) by doing a cameo in the sequel, which will be released in December.