Well, gosh. There’s been a lot of TV news as of late, partially because the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour has been going since last Wednesday and also partially because, well, why not. As it turns out, a couple of films are being adapted into TV shows, and NBC is getting back into the once rather lucrative miniseries business.
MTV Has Hired Writers for Its Adaptation of Scream, Doesn’t Expect to Cancel Teen Wolf Anytime Soon
MTV first announced their intention to adapt the horror film franchise Scream into a TV show a year ago. This seemed like incredibly strange news, mostly seen as being directly inspired by MTV’s success in adapting the Michael J. Fox/Jason Bateman Teen Wolf films into a barely related TV show. However, in retrospect adapting a goofy 80s comedy which used lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty into a True Blood-esque supernatural drama in the age of Twilight/Vampire Diaries seems like a slam dunk. But a meta-horror franchise designed to both subvert and uphold slasher film conventions? If they stick to the slasher film roots, they may end up with a higher body count among its cast members than even Vampire Diaries or a Joss Whedon show.
MTV apparently does not disagree. They have only committed to the show at the pilot level, meaning it’s not guaranteed to ever make it on the air. They’ve also taken their sweet time developing it, only recently hiring Criminal Minds and Revenge producers Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie to write the pilot (it’s assumed Kevin Williamson, who built his career on writing The Scream screenplays, will not be involved beyond maybe a largely ceremonial Executive Producer credit). This comes a year after the thing was announced. It’s unclear what timeline the show is currently working on, i.e., when it will begin casting, filming, and when MTV will get to see a finished pilot. It seems pretty far away from that, but it’s finally made progress after such a prolonged period of inactivity that one might have assumed it had quietly been canceled.
Speaking of cancellation, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter MTV’s relatively new President of Programming Susanne Daniels was asked how much longer she anticipated sticking with Teen Wolf beyond its current third season. Daniels responded, “It’s rare that a network walks away from something that’s working […] So, when you asked that question about Teen Wolf, my first thought is I’ll milk the cow as long as the cow is giving me milk, to use a really bad analogy [laughs].” So, fans of the crazy town bonkers action of Teen Wolf should have nothing to worry about for a while.
SyFy Finally Moves Forward With It’s Long-Rumored Plans to Adapt the Film Legion Into a TV Show
Several years ago, I took the initiative and rented the film Legion prior to a get together with fellow WeMinoredInFilm writer Julianne. The film stars Paul Bettany, an actor she admires, and certainly presented the potential for some mindless fun or at least well-earned mockery. However, she shot the suggestion down faster than I could even say the word “Legion” because she was far more familiar with its awful reputation than I. That was around the time I became aware of RottenTomatoes, which would have told me the film was among the worst reviewed of 2010.
So, of course, it’s going to be made into a TV show. Now, wait. This could actually work. It’s probably easier to make a bad movie into a good TV show (see: Buffy the Vampire Slayer) than the other way around. SyFy, who make horrible original movies (see: Sharknado) but actually pretty good shows (see: Defiance, Eureka, Battlestar Galactica), has been working on adapting Legion for a while. Now, it’s official: they have ordered a pilot.
The original film was centered on the archangel Michael (Bettany) arriving on Earth to protect the future savior of humanity from an advancing horde of dark angels. The TV show, which has only been ordered at the pilot stage meaning SyFy could still pass on the project, will “take place 25 years into the ongoing battle between angels and humanity. The series focuses on one young soldier who discovers that he is the key to ending the war and saving the human race.”
Personally, I’m getting a real Terminator vibe here. You could look at the movie as being about protecting Sarah Connor while she is pregnant, and the TV show takes place long enough after that the hero they describe is highly likely to end up having to protect a John Connor-type whose existence is attributed to the heroic actions performed by Archangel Michael in Legion. The show will be entitled Dominion, and the Legion co-writer and director, Scott Stewart, will direct the pilot and stay on as an executive producer.
NBC Getting Into the Miniseries Business with Rosemary’s Baby, Tommyknockers, Hilary Clinton Biopic, and The Bible Sequel
Over the past couple of decades in America, the TV miniseries (or limited series, as they are now calling it) has largely migrated away from its once cherished home on network television (remember Roots? North & South?) to the sunnier, perennially award-winning confines of HBO. To the networks, the TV miniseries apparently presented too little long term potential for profit, as while they can be ratings winners in the short-term it is crucially only short-term compared to the superior long-term potential of a regularly recurring TV series. However, while the networks desperately struggle to survive the ever-shifting definition of television and how viewers watch programming cable networks have recently scored major successes by reviving the miniseries. TNT, A&E, Sundance Channel, and The History Channel have all reaped considerable rewards from Hatfield & McCoys, Bag of Bones, Top of the Lake, and The Bible respectively.
So, last month NBC was able to poach Quinn Taylor from ABC to serve as their new executive Vice President of Movies, Miniseries, and International Co-Productions. Taylor had previously helped develop most of the Stephen King miniseries which aired on ABC exclusively throughout the 1990s into the 2000s. Then, this past weekend NBC announced four new miniseries programs, one of them a Stephen King miniseries, and confirmed a previously announced fifth. They are:
A 4-Part Hilary Clinton Biopic
“Hilary will be written and directed by Frozen River‘s Courtney Hunt and will recount Clinton’s life as a wife, mother, politician and cabinet member from 1998 to the present. The script will begin with Clinton living in the White House as her husband is serving the second of his two terms as president. It will include her likely run for president. Busted Shark’s Sherryl Clark will executive produce alongside James D. Stern (Looper).” [via The Hollywod Reporter]
Diane Lane has been cast as Hilary though no one has been cast to play Bill Clinton. Insert Monica Lewinsky joke here. It is expected to air before the next Presidential election so as to avoid any potential problems presented by the possibility of Clinton running to be the Democratic candidate in the election.
A New Adaptation of Rosemary’s Baby
“Rosemary’s Baby will also be a four-hour mini and is described as an updated retelling of the novel by Ira Levin that led to a feature film about devil worship and the relationship between a young husband and wife. In the new incarnation, the couple lives in Paris. Lionsgate will produce with Scott Abbott (Winchell) on board to pen the project.Joshua Maurer, David Stern, Perri Kipperman and Alix Witlin will executive produce.” [via The Hollywod Reporter]
Another Tommyknockers Miniseries…For Some Reason
“Stephen King’s Tommyknockers is based on the author’s 1987 novel about the residents of a small Maine town and how they deal with what they perceive to be an alien spacecraft that has landed nearby. Frank Konigsberg and Larry Sanitsky will executive produce, while Emmy winner Yves Simoneau (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee) will direct.” [via The Hollywod Reporter]
We have the success of Under the Dome on CBS this summer to blame for this one. NBC President Bob Greenblatt admitted as much, i.e., suddenly after Under the Dome the Stephen King business seems like a smart thing to get into. However, why exactly they chose one of King’s lesser works, which was already a really poor miniseries starring Jimmy Smits in the 90s, as opposed to a more obvious choice (for topical reasons) like the vampire-centric Salem’s Lot is a bit of a mystery.
A Historical Telling of the Founding of Plymouth Rock in America
“Limited series Plymouth will follow the challenges and drama of the Pilgrims’ journey across the Atlantic and the difficulties of settling in a new country. Mark Burnett and Anne Thomopoulos of Mark Burnett Productions will executive produce alongside Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo of Little Engine. Oscar and Emmy winner Walon Green(NYPD Blue, The Hellstrom Chronicle) will pen the project.” [via The Hollywod Reporter]
A.D.: Beyond the Bible
The Bible was a huge hit as a 10-part miniseries for The History Channel earlier this year. How huge was it? When it was finally released on DVD in April it quickly became the highest-selling miniseries of all time. Wow. So, of course they want to make more, but History Channel decided to walk away from it to focus on already in-development original miniseries projects like one based on the life of Harry Houdini. NBC swooped in to secure the rights, or at least that’s the official story. It seems more likely that NBC simply outbid The History Channel. Now the sequel to The Bible, which was (sarcasm alert: the following should not be taken seriously) this close to simply being called Jesus & Pals until they realized South Park had taken that already. According to producer Mark Burnett, A.D.: Beyond the Bible will take place in the days after Jesus’ death (spoiler: I have it on good authority that Jesus doesn’t stay dead).
Holy crap, y’all. NBC actually might be making some pretty smart business moves with these shows, even if none of them turn out to be good they seem shrewd bets to land solid ratings. It is unclear when most of these projects will ever air, and in the case of Legion and Scream they may never make it past the pilot stage.
Do any of these sound interesting to you? Don’t quite understand why they would attempt to recreate a fairly perfect movie like Rosemary’s Baby? Let us know in the ratings.