EXCLUSIVE: ABC has handed a big production commitment to Mason Dixon, an hourlong drama from Lee Daniels (Empire, Star) and writer Julian Breece (The First). 20th Television, where Daniels is under an overall deal, is the studio.

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Lee is set to direct the potential pilot written by Breece. In Mason Dixon, in the wake of their spouses’ cheating scandal and untimely deaths, Angela Dixon, a beloved and liberal politician’s wife, and Paul Mason, a brash and conservative good ole boy, form an unlikely alliance that blends their families and shakes up a community divided by race and class.

Breece executive produces with Lee Daniels Entertainment’s Daniels and Marc Velez. Micah Schraft (Mrs. America) serves as a consulting producer.

The project was initially developed at Fox during the 2017-18 season. Breece’s original script is now being redeveloped for ABC, and the network has ordered two backup scripts to be co-written by Breece and Schraft.

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Daniels, co-creator/executive producer on the Fox/20th TV drama series Empire and Star, is working on the release of his latest feature, The United States vs. Billy Holiday, which explores the story of the legendary musician and iconic civil rights leader through her journey with addiction, love, and the FBI.

Breece served as co-producer on Beau Willimon’s Hulu drama series The First and most recently did a stint as a consulting producer on Tracy Oliver’s BET series The First Wives Club. Breece’s first screenplay, Ball, was honored as a finalist for the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting, and his short The Young and Evil was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival.

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