HBO has won the battle for Kevin Spacey’s soul. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but the pay cable network has outmaneuvered rival Showtime in the war to develop The Crux, a potential drama-series vehicle for Spacey reported first by Vulture two months ago. The show, if it gets made, will chronicle the life of the charismatic leader of a high-profile cult; the intention is for Spacey to star, though it’s possible the show could get made without him on-camera. Spacey and writer-director Rod Lurie pitched The Crux late last spring to multiple networks, including Showtime and HBO; in the end, Team Spacey went with HBO, most likely for two reasons.
First, HBO stepped up and agreed to a first-look development deal with Trigger Street Films, the production company Spacey runs with Dana Brunetti. This will give Spacey room to develop many other pet projects for HBO, even ones he doesn’t plan to act in. (The company’s no slouch in development: It’s also a producer of David Fincher’s upcoming The Social Network.)
Secondly, while Showtime has come a long way in recent years, it’s still no HBO when it comes to overall buzz or ratings. The roughly 1.3 million viewers who tuned in to Monday’s season premiere of Weeds, for example, pales against the 5 million or so people who watch the average episode of HBO’s True Blood. Showtime may have also been handicapped by the fact that, just as The Crux was being pitched, longtime chief Robert Greenblatt was preparing to exit the network, which would’ve meant putting the project into the hands of new Showtime boss David Nevins, who has yet to be tested running the network.