HBO announced today that it is developing King Rex, a new Texas-centered limited series billed as a “buried treasure of a true crime mystery.” The show is based on “Rex Cauble and the Cowboy Mafia,” a story by Lawrence Wright published in Texas Monthly’s November 1980 issue.
The series will follow the rise and epic fall of Rex Cauble, a millionaire horseman who made his initial fortune as a wildcatter and brought glamorous Western apparel to prominence through his Cutter Bill Western World stores. Cauble’s empire was shattered by an investigation into his involvement in what was then one of the largest drug-smuggling operations in American history.
The vocally anti-marijuana Cauble, an honorary Texas Ranger, was convicted on ten counts, including racketeering and embezzlement, though he maintained his innocence for the rest of his life. The HBO series, like Wright’s article, will explore how Cauble’s close friendship with a horse trader named Charles “Muscles” Foster led to his downfall.
Max Winkler, who directed and executive produced the hit 2021 series Cruel Summer, will serve as director and executive producer. His father, Barry actor and longtime Hollywood star Henry Winkler, will play Rex Cauble. Malcolm Spellman and Nichelle Tramble Spellman will executive produce the series, and Texan Trey Selman is signed on to write.
King Rex is one of a number of Texas Monthly projects in development with HBO and HBO Max; a three-year first-look deal between the publication and the networks was announced in December 2021. An HBO Max series, Love and Death, expected to release later this year, was inspired by the Texas Monthly Press book Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs and a collection of TM articles (“Love and Death in Silicon Prairie,” part one and part two) by Jim Atkinson and John Bloom. It stars Elizabeth Olsen and Jesse Plemons and was written by David E. Kelley and directed by Dallas native Lesli Linka Glatter.
Lawrence Wright, a former Texas Monthly staffer, is an Austin-based staff writer at the New Yorker and the author of thirteen books, including the 2006 history of Al Qaeda, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, which spent eight weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and was translated into 25 languages. It won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, and was made into a Hulu series starring Jeff Daniels. Wright’s 2013 book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief was made into an HBO documentary that won three Emmys, including one for best documentary. His 2018 book God Save Texas: A Journey Into the Soul of the Lone Star State explores the history, culture, and politics of Texas.