Sam Shepard will star in Tough Trade, the inaugural pilot for Epix, an indication that the fledgling multiplatform entertainment service will pursue established talent for its original offerings.
Trade is a contemporary one-hour drama about the Tucker family, a three-generation Nashville music dynasty whose penchant for drink, debauchery and divorce has left them morally corrupt and on the verge of bankruptcy.
Shepard will play the patriarch.
Epix, a joint venture of Viacom, Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate that launched October 30 with concert and comedy specials, has not announced additional carriage deals beyond its pact with Verizon's FiOS. But the premium channel has been gearing up original production in the past couple of months under head of original programing Laverne McKinnon and aims to launch its first original scripted program, probably a miniseries, in third-quarter 2010.
Actor-playwright Shepard, a Pulitzer Prize winner for his play Buried Child and an Oscar nominee for The Right Stuff, next appears in the feature Brothers, opposite Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman.