Nellie Andreeva

On the heels of winning his second directing Oscar for Life Of Pi, Ang Lee will make his television directorial debut with FX‘s high-profile drama pilot Tyrant, from Homeland executive producers Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff and Six Feet Under alum Craig Wright. This represents a major coup for FX and Tyrant producers Fox 21 and FX Prods as Lee had been approached numerous times for pilots, but this is the first one he has committed to. In addition to directing, Lee is executive producing Tyrant, his first project following Life Of Pi. It tells the story of an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation. The series was created by Raff and developed by Gordon and Wright. Raff wrote the pilot, which comes from Gordon’s 20th TV-based company Teakwood Lane. “Ang Lee has demonstrated time and again an ability to present characters with such depth and specificity that they reveal the universal human condition,” said FX president John Landgraf. “No one could be a more perfect film maker to bring Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff, and Craig Wright’s Tyrant to indelible life.”

Gordon, Raff and Wright also executive produce in association with Keshet Broadcasting. If Tyrant goes to series, Wright will serve as showrunner. With a huge commitment and A-list creative auspices, Tyrant already was fully expected to go to series, something Landgraf alluded to in January. (Backup scripts had already been commissioned.) Lee’s arrival likely sealed the deal. “The fact that the brilliant Ang Lee has signed on to direct his first project for television speaks to the extraordinary nature of Tyrant,” said Fox 21 president Bert Salke. Production of Tyrant is tentatively slated to begin this summer.

Tyrant keeps Lee in the Fox family. His last four movies, Brokeback Mountain; Lust, Caution; Taking Woodstock and Life Of Pi were all produced/distributed by divisions of Twentieth Century Fox, a sibling to both FX and Fox 21. Lee has won three Oscars, for directing Brokeback Mountain and Life Of Pi and his Best Foreign-Language Film winner, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. His latest film, Life Of Pi, won the most Oscars this year, four, and has grossed more than $600 million worldwide.

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