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Woody Harrelson, left, and Matthew McConaughey will star in the HBO eight-part event drama series ''True Detective'' written and produced by Nic Pizzolatto. (Special to the American Press)

Woody Harrelson, left, and Matthew McConaughey will star in the HBO eight-part event drama series ''True Detective'' written and produced by Nic Pizzolatto. (Special to the American Press)

Author Nic Pizzolatto to produce show for HBO

Last Modified: Thursday, August 09, 2012 6:29 PM

By Cliff Seiber / American Press

With the screen rights to his first novel sold to Paramount and production of a two-year series with HBO well under way, author Nic Pizzolatto is on the way to the heights in Hollywood.

Born in New Orleans, Pizzolatto graduated from Our Lady Queen of Heaven and St. Louis High Catholic schools in Lake Charles, Louisiana State University and University of Arkansas Graduate School. He taught fiction and literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Chicago and was assistant professor at DePauw University outside Indianapolis, Ind., when he moved with his family to Los Angeles in 2010.

He is the son of Nick Pizzolatto Jr. of Jennings and Sheila Sierra Pizzolatto of Sulphur.

Pizzolatto’s appearance on the national scene began early with his first two stories, “Ghost Birds” and “Between Here and the Yellow Sea,” bought simultaneously by The Atlantic.

His fiction has also appeared in The Oxford American, The Missouri Review, The Iowa Review, Best American Mystery Stories and other publications. His was a finalist for the National Magazine Award, and his story collection “Between Here and the Yellow Sea” was named by Poets & Writer’s Magazine as one of the top five fiction debuts of the year.

Pizzolatto’s 2010 “Galveston: A Novel” received major reviews in The New York Times and The Dallas News, among other publications.

It was a pick in The Times’s “Editors’ Choice” column, which said, “In true noir tradition, things don’t end well for the fugitive misfits of this first novel, but that’s not to say moments of grace don’t occur along the way.” It was also included in the newspaper’s “Paperback Row,” which said it “takes a hard-edged look at the life of Roy Cady, a compassionate (and terminally ill) criminal. On the run from a New Orleans mob boss, Roy hides out with other broken souls at a roadside motel in Texas.”

In his Times review headed “Love among the Ruined,” novelist Dennis Lehane called “Galveston” “an often incandescent fever dream of low-rent, unbearable beauty.”

Pizzolatto, now 36, made his debut in Hollywood as screenwriter with two episodes of the AMC network TV series “The Killing,” but his big splash is HBO’s “True Detectives,” for which he is creator, sole teleplay writer, executive producer and the “show-runner,” he told the American Press. “I own it, with my producer partners.”

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson have been signed to star in the first season of “True Detectives.”

Pizzolatto said he has always though McConaughey was “a tremendous actor and a bona fide, first-rate leading man of the old-school manner, though for a long while his career was somewhat isolated to romantic comedies. But he’s been turning in great performance after great performance over the last year.”

“Matthew wanted Woody, and they were already friends who want to work together when they can, so that was lucky. Very, very lucky.”

The production will be based in New Orleans, with location shooting ranging out from the Crescent City.

Asked how he got interested in writing, Pizzolatto said it was “a defiance toward the inadequacy of the reality surrounding me and a corresponding desire to create a finer analogue.”

About the Southern flavor of much of his writing, Pizzolatto said, “I was born and raised and lived in South Louisiana until I was 22 years old, and even then I used to come back a lot. It’s your youth that haunts you. Every aspect of it haunts me, the way emotions haunt you even once they’ve ceased. You remember the intensity of the feeling, the vividness of your emotions, the branding of your senses by these surroundings, these events, your life.”

His “Ode to Lake Charles,” published in The Oxford American in 2006, led off with a line from Lucinda Williams’s song, “Lake Charles”: “Now your soul is in Lake Charles. No matter what they say.”

He concluded the piece, “A friend asked me what (Lake Charles) was like. I said: Picture a red darkness filled with screaming insects. Imagine a relentless sun, air so moist the breeze leaves a sheen of grease on your skin. Imagine being at the center of a half-closed claw whose nails are trees. My friend said that sounded awful. I told her I hadn’t described it correctly.”

Posted By: Peg Frederick Frey, Austin, Texas On: 8/11/2012

Title: Had no idea

Oh, my. I had no idea that Nic's path had taken him this far so quickly. He and his siblings attended the same schools as my daughter and both families were then members of the same church and social community. I congratulate him and wish him all the best.

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