Alan Ball goes to the well once again, Judd Apatow makes a return to TV and Professor Dumbledore bets the ponies. Just another day on the cable powerhouse that is HBO.

Ball, the Oscar-winning show runner of Six Feet Under and True Blood just shot a pilot called All Signs of Death, based on Charlie Huston‘s book The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, which follows a trauma cleaning unit, much like Sunshine Cleaning, but less cute. Apatow, who made his name with TV shows Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, is executive producing a pilot called Girls, which was created by Lena Dunham, currently riding the wave off her indie film Tiny Furniture. It’s a more realistic take on the Sex and the City formula. Both shows are only in the pilot stage and neither has been picked up for series yet. It they do, Ball and Apatow will executive produce. (UPDATE: HBO passed on All Signs of Death.)

Finally, Michael Gambon has been cast as a recurring regular on the Michael Mann-produced series Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman, which is about the seedy underworld of horse racing. Read more about all three HBO nuggets of news after the jump.

ComingSoon reported on the two HBO pilots from the high profile men. All Signs of Death stars Ben Whishaw (Bright Star, Perfume) as Web, a guy who works for the Clean Team in Los Angeles, which cleans up death scenes. His mother will be played by Dale Dickey, who can currently be seen in Winter’s Bone. Much like the other Ball shows, the show blends dark themes with humor. (UPDATE: HBO passed on All Signs of Death.)

Girls is described as “a younger, more real-life version of Sex and the City,” which “follows three girlfriends in their early ’20s – Hannah, Marnie, and Jessa.” Dunham is the grounded one, Hannah, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams’ daughter Allison Williams plays Marnie, a sassy PR assistant, and Jemima Kirke, who was in Tiny Furniture, is the hippie chick, Jessa. Here’s what Dunham had to say about the pilot:

I hope that we get a chance to go to series, because I’ve never seen a series about girls like me or girls my age depicted in a way that felt accurate and honest. I can always promise awkward sex – not sex in a pipe, but I won’t disappoint you. It’s still cringe-worthy.

Finally, Deadline reported on Gambon joining Luck, which isn’t scheduled to hit the air until late 2011 or early 2012. On the show, which is set in the world of Los Angeles horse racing, Gambon will play “a yet-to-be-named character described as a nemesis or worthy adversary for Hoffman’s Ace Bernstein.” Also recently cast on the show are Oscar nominee Joan Allen and Patrick J. Adams.

Luck is definitely going to play on HBO at some point but unless the pilots for All Signs of Death and Girls are picked up, we might never get to see them. Do any of the projects stand out for you? And can HBO original programming really do anything wrong?

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