Ke Nui Road: HBO Max Orders Wells, Kester Lifeguard Drama Pilot

HBO Max has ordered a pilot for Ke Nui Road, a lifeguard drama from John Wells and Animal Kingdom writer Matt Kester. This marks HBO's second attempt at a beach-oriented drama after the cult 2007 magical realist surfer drama John From Cincinnati which was created by Deadwood creator David Milch. Ke Nui Road is a contemporary drama set on the North Shore of Oahu, focusing on the relationships between an elite crew of heavy-water lifeguards and the teens and young adults they mentor and train in the junior lifeguard program. The junior guards program embodies the beauty, the danger, the struggle, and the spirit of aloha — all centered on the ocean — that is modern Hawaii.

Ke Nui Road: HBO Max Orders Pilot of Lifeguard Drama

On the surface, Ke Nui Road sounds like a more upmarket Baywatch. This being HBO, the show is probably free to have more cussing, sex, nudity, and deeply flawed characters who make terrible, self-destructive decisions that make sympathising with them tricky, but are in so much trouble that they will hopefully remain empathetic. That's the HBO and Premium Cable School of Character Creation these days. And why not? That's what sets premium cable shows apart from network shows where the characters always need to be likable and sympathetic. HBO mastered the "seemingly likable heroes who do questionable if not downright awful things" dynamic and continues to push that to this day.

Wells, previously an executive producer for The West Wing and Shameless, had set up the project in development at HBO last year as part of his overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. Kester, who previously worked on WGN's Outsiders and ABC's Forever, will write and executive produce the pilot, which will be directed and exec produced by Wells. Erin Jontow, President of Television at John Wells Productions, will also exec produce Ke Nui Road.

Ke Nui Road is Wells' latest project with HBO Max. He recently piloted psychological drama Red Bird Lane, starring Susan Sarandon and written by cult crime novelist Sara Gran, but HBO Max opted not to order a series in February. For the moment, Ke Nui Road is not guaranteed to get a series greenlit. That depends on a lot of factors, including whether HBO brass decides whether the pilot is any good. it always certainly won't be as weird as John From Cincinnati, which is too bad.

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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