By Alison Willmore | Indiewire January 16, 2014 at 1:34PM
Showtime has announced series orders for two high-profile projects, one a drama starring Dominic West and Ruth Wilson, the other a comedy starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Kathryn Hahn. Both will get 10-episode first seasons.
"The Affair" is an hourlong drama about the psychological and emotional effects of an extramarital affair between Alison (Wilson, of "Luther" fame), a waitress at a Hamptons diner trying to recover from a tragedy, and Noah (West), a New York public school teacher and would-be novelist spending the summer at his in-laws' estate. The series will be told separately from each character's perspective, including their memory biases, and comes from playwright Sarah Treem, a writer and producer on HBO's "In Treatment" who wrote the original script from a story co-created with Hagai Levi, the creator of the Israeli series on which "In Treatment" was based. Joshua Jackson will play Alison's husband Cole, who's struggling to keep his family's ranch from financial ruin, and Maura Tierney is Helen, Noah's college sweetheart, mother of his children and wife of 17 years. Treem and Levi will both serve as executive producers, alongside director Jeffrey Reiner ("Friday Night Lights").
"Happyish" is a half-hour comedy starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Thom Payne, a 42-year-old working for people half his age at a company where "digital" and "social" get said more often than he'd like and worrying about whether his Viagra will interfere with his Prozac, or vice versa. Rhys Ifans is Jonathan, Thom's boss, who tells him to "rebrand" himself, while Thom's corporate headhunter tells him happiness is a myth. Kathryn Hahn plays Thom's wife Lee Payne, who's in search of a meaning in a series described as "a dark examination of our pursuit of happiness, a pursuit that might just be the very thing causing our unhappiness in the first place." "Happyish" is created, written and executive produced by author and "This American Life" contributor Shalom Auslander, and was developed by Ken Kwapis ("Big Miracle"). John Cameron Mitchell ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch") directed the pilot.
"'The Affair' is a beautiful pilot. It is an intense exploration of two marriages and the affair that disrupts them -- with great acting and a very clever, deeply-observed script by the marvelously talented Sarah Treem," said Showtime's David Nevins. "Shalom Auslander and Phillip Seymour Hoffman make for a formidable and unusual comedy team. The chance to get one of the truly great actors of our time into a such an incisive and current comedy was totally and completely irresistible."