EXCLUSIVE: How do you say “hot property” in Swedish? After a bidding war, 20th Century Fox TV has nabbed the rights to a series of books by renowned Swedish criminologist and novelist Leif G.W. Persson for Stephen Gaghan to develop as a TV series targeted for next season. Gaghan is in the first year of a two-year overall deal at 20th TV, following his collaboration with the studio on his NBC pilot Metro this past season.
The TV project will be based on the central character in Persson’s books — Evert Backstrom. An equal-opportunity misanthrope, Backstrom is always miserable, and only a good murder case can cheer him up. The character has appeared in two novels so far, Linda and He Who Kills The Dragon, with at least one more on the way. Backstrom is very popular in Scandinavia, where Persson’s books have sold more than 6 million copies. The novels were brought to the U.S. by Scandinavia’s top literary agency for crime writers, Salomonsson Agency, which is allied with Los Angeles’ RWSG Literary Agency. RWSG recently shopped the Backstrom books to TV studios, receiving multiple bids. Niclas Salomonsson and Leif G.W. Persson will serve as executive producers on the TV project alongside Gaghan. Persson, a leading psychological profiler, has also served as an adviser to the Swedish Ministry of Justice. Since 1991, he holds the position of Professor at the National Swedish Police Board and is regularly consulted as the country’s foremost expert on crime. On the feature side, RWSG and Niclas Salomonsson have sold Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series to Working title, and Three Seconds, by Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom, to Shine/New Regency. Gaghan is with CAA.