The Oscar-winning director Ang Lee has called it quits on directing the new FX Tyrant pilot in an announcement Tuesday.
Lee, who is serving on the Cannes Film Festival jury with fellow Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Steven Spielberg, who is the jury foreman, explained why he was no longer able to helm the television pilot. Tyrant would have been his first project since winning the Best Director Oscar for “Life of Pi” earlier this year.
In the statement Lee said, “It is one of the most brilliant ideas for a series that I’ve seen and one about which I was very excited. However, after spending over four years making and promoting Life of Pi, I have recently realized that I need some rest. Because I cannot give 100 [percent] to this exciting project at this time, I cannot allow myself to do anything that may affect the potential for this exciting new series.”
“Tyrant” is a new television drama about “an American family drawn into the affairs of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation.” The show is being produced by Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff, who produced Homeland, as well as Craig Wright, who was supervising producer on Lost.
Production on the series is supposed to begin this summer, but no air date or cast members have been announced. Deadline.com reports that the show has received a commitment from FX and it is expected to get the “green light” as a series.
Ang Lee would not have been the first director to migrate from the big screen to television after winning an Oscar. Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow won her statuette for Hurt Locker and then signed up to direct the pilot for HBO’s The Miraculous Year, which was about a New York family as seen through the lens of a self-destructive Broadway composer. Of course Bigelow had worked on television before having worked on episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street and Karen Sisco. this would have been Lee’s first time directing for the little screen.
Also according to Deadline.com, Lee felt that ‘he didn’t have gas left in the tank.’ Apparently he had made other previous commitments, one of which is his current role as a juror at the Cannes Film Festival. Deadline related that Lee called Howard Gordon this morning from Cannes.
Deadline revealed that it was a very emotional call and that Lee informed Gordon that, despite his best intentions, he wouldn’t be able to proceed because he he had hit a wall physically and mentally after a grueling last few years.
It must come as a disappointment to Lee as he had been looking forward to directing Tyrant and he loved the script. He apparently had looked at some scouting locations but had not started actively working on the pilot. It has not been revealed where the project will be filmed, although Morocco and Turkey have been mentioned.
FX are very excited about the project and it is expected that the pilot will be approved for a full season.
By Michael Smith