EXCLUSIVE: AMC is looking tackle a new genre: historic drama/Western. The cable network has greenlighted Hell On Wheels, a pilot from writers Joe and Tony Gayton revolving around the construction of the transcontinental railroad during the 1860s.
The project is from reality powerhouse Endemol USA which has been making a push in scripted television under senior vp Jeremy Gold. Gold is serving as an executive producer on Hell on Wheels along with Joe and Tony Gayton and Endemol USA president-CEO David Goldberg.
The rail line, considered one of the biggest achievements of the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, was completed on May 10, 1869, forever changing the American West. It accelerated the populating of the West by white homesteaders and freed slaves, while greatly contributing to the decline of the Native American culture in the regions it served. The railroad, considered by some to be the greatest technological feat of the 19th century, was constructed by two private companies: the Union Pacific Railroad, which built the line westward, and the Central Pacific Railroad, which built eastward.
Hell On Wheels marks the sixth pilot for AMC. Four of the first five, period drama Mad Men, dark meth drama Breaking Bad, political thriller Rubicon and comic book adaptation Walking Dead went to series, with the fifth one, murder mystery The Killing, still in production. AMC started its original programming efforts in the Western genre with the miniseries Broken Trail.