Thursday, August 9, 2007, Thurs., Aug. 9, 2007, 1:45pm PT

HBO rolls with Ball’s ‘True Blood
‘Six Feet Under’ creator to act as showrunner

Alan Ball is back in HBO’s court, as the paycabler has officially picked up the vampire series “True Blood.”
Ball, who created the hit “Six Feet Under” for HBO, will exec produce and showrun “True Blood,” which is based on the novel series “Southern Vampire” from author Charlaine Harris

Net is still ironing out an episodic order and airdate, but “True Blood” is expected to go into production this fall. Ball, who wrote and directed the pilot, already has penned several more episodes.

“‘True Blood’ proves that Alan continues as a master of his craft,” said HBO entertainment prexy Carolyn Strauss.

Ball first started working on the project in October 2005, when he signed a two-year overall pact with HBO. The project was eventually rolled to this year, and was shot earlier this summer with stars Anna Paquin, Ryan Kwanten, Sam Trammell, Stephen Moyer and Brook Kerr.

Set in small-town Louisiana, series follows the world of vampires, who are able to co-exist with humans by drinking a Japanese-manufactured synthetic blood. While spooky, the show also contains a dose of humor alongside the horror.

“Charlaine has created such a rich environment that’s very funny and at the same time very scary,” Ball told Daily Variety after first selling the project in 2005. “I bought the book on impulse and I just couldn’t put it down.”

Paquin plays Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress who winds up falling for the vampire Bill Compton (played by Moyer) and who has powers of her own. Carrie Preston and Michael Raymond-James round out the cast.

Ball recently directed the film “Nothing is Private.” Ball’s Your Face Goes Here Entertainment shingle will produce “True Blood” with HBO.