“HBO is expanding its relationship with Alan Ball. The prolific writer-producer who developed True Blood for TV is back at the premium cable network with Virtuoso, a Fame-like musical drama that has received a pilot pickup,” reports Lesley Goldberg in Monday’s (1/26) Hollywood Reporter. “Ball will write, exec produce and direct Virtuoso, an hourlong period drama set against the complex and volatile backdrop of 18th-century Vienna. Virtuoso follows a class of young musical prodigies from all over Europe at the prestigious Academy of Musical Excellence. Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, are on board to produce alongside Ball and his partner and frequent collaborator Peter Macdissi.… Macdissi, who has had onscreen roles on Banshee, True Blood and Six Feet Under, will star as Salieri, an accomplished composer and conductor who is appointed by the dying Emperor Joseph I to start the university to honor Joseph’s legacy.” Other characters include a variety of young classical instrumentalists as well as “a castrato prodigy who comes from a poor farming family in Florence but has had free education thanks to his singing ability.… The drama arrives as scripted musical series have been enjoying a resurgence.” Production on the pilot is scheduled for the spring.

Posted January 30, 2015