Because the studios have forgotten how to make good movies and indies don't pay shit, talented and interesting filmmakers continue to trot on over to television. The latest is Anthony Minghella, the auteur behind The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and the way underrated Breaking & Entering (among others), who has a pilot that's just been picked up by HBO. His The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, about crime solving women in Botswana (adapted from Alexander McCall Smith's books), has received a thirteen episode order from the cable network (which is producing in conjunction with the Weinstein Company and the BBC.)

Minghella joins other filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh (the boring K Street), Paul Haggis (the silly The Black Donnellys) and Lasse Hallstrom (the regrettable new series New Amsterdam) who have looked for some creative space in television, perhaps encouraged by the freedom that the Davids Chase (Sopranos) and Simon (The Wire) enjoyed at HBO. Though, Soderbergh's and Haggis' shows were both ugly failures, and Hallstrom's seems destined to be the same. Hopefully Minghella's effort, with its exotic and curious plot, can buck the trend and fulfill on its promise. Though, maybe it's too exotic and curious. [THR]