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Volume 26, Number 2 — February 2019

Abingdon High Graduate Now Working on FX Show 'The Riches'

Colette Burson, left, stands with her husband Dmitry Lipkin. Burson, who helped create the show
Colette Burson, left, stands with her husband Dmitry Lipkin. Burson, who helped create the show "The Riches," used 24210 ? the zip code for Abingdon ? as a prison number in one episode. (Photo courtesy Colette Burson)

By JoeTennis | Bristol Herald Courier | April 14, 2008

*** The story appeared in the Bristol Herald Courier on Sunday, April 13, 2008. ***

Colette Burson called it her "shout out to Abingdon." Last year, this 1988 graduate of Abingdon High School got a chance to fly solo as writer of an episode of the FX series called "The Riches." In the installment called "Cinderella," Burson needed a prison number for one of the characters.

And, well, there was one number that popped in her mind: 24210. Of course, if you live in Washington County's courthouse town, you already know that number: It's the main zip code for Abingdon. It is also just one of many times Burson has dropped some inside jokes in her career as a playwright and television writer.

A resident of Los Angeles, Burson is married to Dmitry Lipkin, the creator of The Riches. This series, starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver, is about a group of Irish Traveler con artists and thieves. "The Riches" profiles how a family of crooks assumes the identities of The Riches, an upper middle-class suburban family in the Deep South.

Burson said she helped create the show, along with Lipkin, while visiting Burson's godmother, Vicki Lane Marsh, an artist and part-time resident of Abingdon. Marsh, who also lives at a beachfront home in South Carolina, said the couple had been watching a local television program about Irish Travelers, and that provided the inspiration for the show.

That was all about five years ago. And, today, Marsh is amazed at how The Riches has developed. The show premiered in 2007. "And it's so imaginative," Marsh said. "It's extremely imaginative."

Burson, on the other hand, does more than simply help Lipkin in his projects. In 1999, she served as writer and director of a movie called "Coming Soon" that was shown at Abingdon's Cinemall in 2000. Currently, she's promoting a screenplay called "Permanent," based on her own life as a teenager growing up around Abingdon and Bristol. Burson recalled once having a hair permanent ? or "perm" ? that turned out so bad that "it ruined my social life."

Often, while writing, Burson injects stories of Abingdon or family life in Bristol, she said. Burson, 38, is a descendant of the prominent Bursons of Bristol. One of her great-grandfathers, John Edward Burson (1847-1920), is the man for whom the Washington County community of "Burson Place" is named. Moving to Lebanon at age 10, Burson relocated to Abingdon when she was 12. She later graduated from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville.

Among her latest projects is developing a TV show, with Lipkin, about a high school basketball coach.

And she's excited, saying the couple now has "an offer" to develop the series.

What: The Riches
When: Airs on FX, Tuesdays, 10 p.m.

A! ExtraTopics: Film