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Texas Politics To Be Lone Star Of New HBO Series

A large Texas flag is carried up Congress Avenue toward the Texas Capitol during the annual Boy Scouts Parade and Report to State in Austin in February 2013.
Eric Gay

Between Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and Wendy Davis, Texas politicians in recent years have lived up to their state's reputation for producing larger-than-life characters.

That makes the Texas political scene a natural for the Hollywood treatment.

HBO has given God Save Texas, a drama about the state's often raucous political culture, the green light for development. It's set to unfold at the Texas statehouse, a perennial flashpoint for national debates about issues ranging from abortion to gun rights to the size and role of government.

According to an early description first reported by Deadline.com, the show will follow an "idealistic cowboy" who, after election to the state Legislature, "becomes the target of the powerful energy lobby and learns how to survive in the crazy, brutal world of Texas politics."

It's being developed from Sonny's Last Shot, a 2005 play by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lawrence Wright, who will also write and co-produce the show.

State government isn't typical fodder for premium cable, but Texas politics have lately gripped the nation's imagination, pushing the state's colorful perspectives and personalities into the fore. "The thing about Texas is that it's a little larger than life," Executive Producer Lauren Shuler Donner said. "You can't make up characters like this."

Indeed, the show's creators have a deep bench of Texas pols from which to draw dramatic inspiration. It includes veterans of public scrutiny and caricature, including Perry, the long-serving governor and former presidential candidate, and comparatively fresh, yet polarizing personalities such as gubernatorial hopefuls Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis — whose rivalry has caught fire on the national stage.

Even if they don't appear by name, those familiar voices are likely to be heard on the show in one form or another. "Larry did a lot of research," Shuler Donner said. "He met with a lot of characters in Austin."

The show can also be expected to tap into ongoing debates about guns, gay rights and immigration. But the Season 1 story arc will center on another issue painfully familiar to Texans: the state's recent patterns of extreme drought. Shuler Donner suggested efforts toward drought relief would run afoul with special interest groups in Austin.

Shuler Donner says the pilot for God Save Texas is set to enter production soon.

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Gregory Barber
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
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