With a renewed focus on original dramas as AMC just exited the unscripted space, the network is ramping up development. It had been an AMC tradition to hold annual script showcases, called by the network producer meetings, where the writers/producers of scripts that had been identified by network brass as top pilot contenders, lay out their vision for the shows beyond the pilot. Those producer meetings, which continue to be referred to as “bakeoff” in agency jargon, have traditionally been taking place in the spring, followed by pilot pickups. Sometimes, there has been a second round of producer meetings in the fall, which is what happened this year.
I’ve learned of seven projects from AMC Studios that were featured at the meetings held this week. Their settings span from present-day Birmingham and Mumbai to 1950s Argentina, and they tackle issues ranging from civil rights and pandemic to alien contact.
Additionally I hear that Preacher, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Sam Catlin’s adaptation of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s controversial 1990s comic book series, from Sony TV, was not part of the presentations but also is heating up for a potential pilot order.
Chris Mundy, who is under an overall deal with AMC, has American Band. Drawing on Mundy’s 10-year experience as a journalist for Rolling Stone, the project, which he wrote and executive produces, chronicles the rise of the next great rock and roll band from an unfiltered, insider’s perspective. Mundy has a successful track record with AMC’s producer meetings. His script for Low Winter Sun, an adaptation of the British miniseries, was featured at the 2012 showcase and went to pilot and then series.
Returning to the showcase for a second go-around was drama The Sparrow, which was originally featured in the spring meetings. Written and executive produced by Michael Perry (The River), the project is an adaptation of Mary Doria Russell science-fiction book and tells the story of a Jesuit-led mission to make first contact with an alien race. In this incarnation, The Sparrow is also executive produced by Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein (AMC’s Breaking Bad, Halt And Catch Fire). The two joined the project after it was first in consideration in May.
I hear Johnson and Bernstein, who executive produce the upcoming Breaking Bad prequel series Better Call Saul, had two projects in the showcase. The second, Search And Destroy, is written/executive produced by Daniel C. Connolly (Longmire). It is set in the early 1950s and centers on a high-level American soldier who has a tough time adjusting to civilian life after coming back from World War II. He is sent to Argentina to track down WWII fugitives. This marks Johnson and Bernstein’s second project at AMC with Connolly. Two years ago they had Edison, a genre-driven show about young Thomas Alva Edison, in development.
Here are other projects I hear were featured at the presentations:
Writer/Executive Producer: Michael Tolkin (The Player)
Executive Producers: Josh Applebaum, André Nemec, Scott Rosenberg & Jeff Pinkner aka Midnight Radio (Zoo, Halo)
A dark comedic tale of Ollie, a big-box store security guard, who is secretly recruited by an NSA-like organization. Starting as an observer, a person who can see everything by manipulating our electronic devices, Ollie will rise to power in hopes of changing the system but will ultimately compromise his intentions.
Writer/Executive Producer: Alexander Woo (True Blood)
Executive Producer: Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment
The fragile peace in present day Birmingham, Alabama is shattered when a murderer from 1963 is discovered and buried demons from the Civil Rights Era resurface.
Writer/Executive Producer: Kerry Williamson
Executive Producer: Vikram Chandra, Anna Garduno
Based on the 2007 novel “Sacred Games” by Vikram Chandra. An ensemble drama exploring the organized crime, crooked local politics and Indian espionage that may undermind the South Asia’s economic renaissance. A policeman, a criminal overlord, a Bollywood film star, beggars, cultists, spies, and terrorists—the lives of the privileged, the famous, the wretched, and the bloodthirsty interweave with cataclysmic consequences amid the chaos of modern-day Mumbai
Writer/Executive Producer: David Scarpa
Executive Producer: Double Feature (as part of the company’s deal with AMC)
Drama about the spread of a mysterious virus
AMC already has five pilots, dramas White City, featured in the spring showcase, Galyntine, Knifeman and The Walking Dead companion, as well as comedy I Hate Paul Revere.