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Southern Comfort

Unsold pilot, 2006

Lee Tergesen played a character named Blue in the pilot for "Southern Comfort," a show that was in development for Fox TV network. However, Fox did not pick up the show for the 2006-2007 season.

In a May 19, 2006, article in the Memphis, Tenn., Commercial Appeal newspaper, producer Dennis Murphy said, "It was so close to being accepted, it was a photo finish..." and he blamed "a confluence of scheduling and marketing" for the pilot's rejection. He said "Southern Comfort" was praised by everyone who saw it, but Fox was unsure how to market the show, which wasn't as violent or edgy as other Fox crime dramas.

In a March 2006 article, the Commercial Appeal had described the show like this:

An ensemble drama that some may describe as a Southern-fried "Sopranos," "Southern Comfort" is the story of a well-to-do Memphis woman (Madeleine Stowe) who is shocked when her home is raided and she learns her seemingly respectable husband (Eric Roberts) earned his money through gambling, drug dealing and other mob crimes. To support her family ... the wife must assume her jailed husband's debts and also take over his crime business." 

A 14-day location shoot for the hour-long pilot took place in March in Memphis, Tenn. Originally, the script located the action in Biloxi, Miss.

In the script, Lee's character, Blue, is described as an "enforcer ... a hard-looking dude. Kind of guy you don't want to fuck with."

Blue is the half-brother of Ray, the character played by Eric Roberts. When Ray gets sent to prison, his wife, Charlotte (Madeleine Stowe), realizes his crooked dealings. It looks like Blue is the one who did the real dirty work. Now that Ray is in prison, Charlotte takes over. Blue has a line: "You're about to enter the food chain, sister, and the food chain ain't always pretty."

The cast also included Travis Fimmel, Reiley McClendon and Jessica Stroup. 

Ken Topolsky was the executive producer, and he had a good pedigree. He was a longtime producer on "The Wonder Years" and "Party of Five." The director for the "Southern Comfort" pilot was Greg Yaitanes, and it was co-written by brothers Tony and Joe Gayton.

The pilot could have led to a 22-episode season; instead it likely will never be seen. On May 18, 2006, Fox announced its fall lineup, and it didn't include "Southern Comfort."

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