Pay cable giant HBO announced a raft of new projects for the next two years, including a new comedy from mockumentary king Christopher Guest and a pair of films that fit tidily within the network’s liberal bent.
- “The Normal Heart” – The film, to be directed by “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy, is based on AIDS activist Larry Kramer’s Tony Award-winning play of the same name. Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo will star in the project, set to debut in 2014. “Heart” recalls the dawn of the AIDS crisis in New York City.
- “Family Tree” – Christopher Guest, the man who essentially created the mockumentary format with “This Is Spinal Tap” and “Waiting for Guffman,” brings his eclectic humor to episodic television. Chris O’Dowd of “Bridesmaids” fame stars as man who starts to learn about himself when he inherits a strange box of belongings from a great aunt he never knew. Some of Guest’s improv regulars (Bob Balaban, Ed Begley, Jr., Michael McKean and Fred Willard) are expected to appear in the series.
- “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God” – Liberal director Alex Gibney’s latest project, set to bow Feb. 4, looks at abuses of power within the Catholic Church related to sexual abuse charges.
- “Vice” – This new series, executive produced by Bill Maher, promises to offer stories mainstream news outlets won’t cover. Among the topics in development include tales of Taliban forces recruiting six-year-olds to be suicide bombers and a South Korean preacher who helps rescue young women from sex slavery in China. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria will serve as a show consultant.