AMC is ramping up scripted development with pilot orders to two period dramas: Turn, from Nikita creator/executive producer Craig Silverstein and Barry Josephson, and Halt & Catch Fire, from Breaking Bad executive producer Mark Johnson. The cable network already ordered two scripted pilots this year — Low Winter Sun and the untitled Richard LaGravenese/Tony Goldwyn project, marking the first time AMC had picked up two pilots at the same time. Now the network has greenlighted a whopping four pilots in the same year — that is almost as many AMC ordered in the five years it has been in the original programming business. Filming on Turn and Halt & Catch Fire is slated for next year, while Low Winter Sun and the LaGravenese/Goldwyn project recently completed production. I hear AMC brass won’t wait for Halt & Catch Fire and Turn to be done before making pickup decisions on the other two pilots. Halt & Catch Fire and Turn were among half a dozen scripts that participated in AMC’s pilot script showcase in April, along with Low Winter Sun and the LaGravenese/Goldwyn project, which got the nod. Turn and Halt & Catch Fire were kept in consideration, and are now joining the other two as pilots. “These additional pilot orders demonstrate AMC’s investment in our original scripted programming,” said Susie Fitzgerald, AMC’s SVP Scripted Development and Current Programming. “Both of these projects take the audience into unique worlds through compelling characters told with an original voice.”
Based on Alexander Rose’s book Washington’s Spies, Turn is set in the summer of 1778 and tells the story of New York farmer Abe Woodhull, who bands together with a group of childhood friends to form The Culper Ring, an unlikely group of spies who turn the tide in America’s fight for independence. The project, from AMC Studios, is written/executive produced by Silverstein and exec produced by Josephson. Silverstein originally wrote Turn the same year he wrote Nikita and co-wrote the pilot script of Terra Nova. I hear that the AMC project is now in first position, so if Nikita gets renewed for a fourth season, he will transition the series to a new showrunner.
Set in the early 1980s, Halt & Catch Fire dramatizes the personal computing boom through the eyes of a visionary, an engineer and a prodigy whose innovations directly confront the corporate behemoths of the time. Their personal and professional partnership will be challenged by greed and ego while charting the changing culture in Texas’ Silicon Prairie. Also from AMC Studios, Halt & Catch Fire is created by Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers. Johnson and Melissa Bernstein from Gran Via Prods serve as executive producers.
AMC has four series on the air: Mad Men, Breaking Bad The Walking Dead as well as Hell on Wheels, whose renewal is contingent on hiring a new showrunner. Additionally, AMC is in negotiations for a third season of The Killing in a shared window with Netflix.