Variety reported in January that Joel and Ethan Coen were busy at work on their first-ever television show, an anthology series with a Western setting. Now, Netflix has announced that it has acquired the rights to the series, which will be titled The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
The Coens will produce Ballad through Annapurna Television and Mike Zoss Productions, their personal production company. The series will feature six episodes, each telling “a distinct story” on the American frontier, and star Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou) as the titular Buster Scruggs. Both Coens are attached in writing and directorial roles.
This won’t be the first time the Coen Brothers have tackled a Western story; both No Country for Old Men and their 2010 remake of True Grit fit that description, though only True Grit has a setting that can be described as “the frontier.” No details have been released about the show’s plot or characters, though Nelson’s casting in the lead role indicates that there should be a healthy helping of trademark Coen humor.
Several big names are also attached in some form or fashion, according to IMDB: James Franco (11.22.63), Zoe Kazan (The Big Sick), and Stephen Root (Boardwalk Empire), among others. Each of these actors is only credited for one episode; Variety’s initial report suggested that the series’ episodes would tie together somehow, but we don’t yet know how — or if that’s even true.
The Coens most recently directed Hail Caesar!, and wrote George Clooney’s upcoming thriller Suburbicon, for which the first trailer was recently released. The third season of Fargo — based upon the Coens’ 1996 film of the same name — aired earlier this year to critical acclaim. Last year, the iconic pair also signed on to write the screenplay for Fox’s Dark Web, based on Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht.
“The Coens are visionary directors, masterful storytellers, and colorful linguists. We are thrilled for Netflix to become home to the full range of their talents,” said Netflix’s Cindy Holland. Added the Coens in a joint statement, “We are streaming motherfuckers!” The Ballad of Buster Cohen will arrive sometime in 2018.