EXCLUSIVE: From zombies to aliens. The Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd and her Valhalla Entertainment have optioned Annie Jacobsen’s book Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base for a potential TV series. The hourlong project, which will be taken out to the networks shortly, will be written by feature scribe Karl Gajdusek. It will follow two men working on the base who are thrust into danger when they uncover secrets that the government will protect at any cost. Gajdusek, who was brought in by Valhalla executive Beatrice Springborn, will serve as showrunner and executive produce with Hurd. Jacobsen will be a consulting producer.
Jacobsen’s Area 51 sheds light on the highly classified military base, which has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories claiming that it is home to aliens, underground tunnel systems, nuclear facilities or even the lunar landing, supposedly staged and filmed there. Jacobsen interviewed 19 men who served the base and another 55 who had links to Area 51, including living and working there for extended periods. The book chronicles what has really gone on in the Nevada desert, from testing nuclear weapons to building super-secret, supersonic jets to pursuing the War on Terror. Area 51 was published in May and spent 8 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller List. Gajdusek, who started off in TV on Showtime’s Dead Like Me, recently wrote the Tom Cruise film Oblivion for Universal, with Joseph Kosinski directing, and The Last Days Of American Crime for Radical/IM Global. Gajdusek, repped by Verve and Management 360, is currently writing Last Resort, a pilot script for ABC executive produced by Shawn Ryan and Viking for Working Title.