On the heels of the record-breaking ratings for Killing Jesus, National Geographic Channel has set its next scripted event, giving the green light to Saints & Strangers (working title), a four-hour miniseries from Bosch co-creator Eric Overmyer, Sony Pictures Television with Little Engine Productions.
Set to air in fall 2015, Saints & Strangers — Nat Geo’s first scripted miniseries — tells the story behind the founding of America, chronicling the trials and tribulations of the 101 men, women and children who boarded the Mayflower for a one-way trip to the New World.
Half of these “pilgrims” were religious separatists who had abandoned their prior lives for religious freedom and an opportunity to create a new social order built on their values. The other half, “adventurers,” were mostly single males seeking financial opportunity and a rapid acquisition of wealth in a new land, or trying to escape their old identities or criminal pasts.
The message of the mini is that these two groups — the spiritual and the mercenary — continue to define the American character to this day as the personal struggles endured while working to establish their new way of life in America shaped the early DNA of our nation. And intertwined with their complex inner struggles is the relationship with the Native Americans, and the conflicting allegiances among these groups, culminating in trials of assimilation, faith and compromise that to this day define our country.
“Given our early success with our scripted fare, further strengthened by the recent record ratings of Killing Jesus, we wanted to find our next brand-definitional scripted television event. And we found that in Saints & Strangers, which is the ultimate story of adventure and exploration,” said National Geographic Channels CEO Courteney Monroe.
Sony TV’s EVP Movies and Miniseries Helen Verno called Saints & Strangers “a vivid, never-before-seen perspective of the origins of our nation.” Added Little Engine Productions’ Grant Scharbo and Gina Matthews, “This is about exploring human endeavor, creating powerful emotional connections, giving this historical event a little bit of heart.”
Saints & Strangers, written by Overmyer and Seth Fisher, counts two members of the team behind Nat Geo’s hugely successful Killing TV movie franchise based on Bill O’Reilly’s books Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy and Killing Jesus. (For now, there are no plans for the latest book in the series, Killing Patton, to be turned into a TV movie.)
The original script for Saints & Strangers was written by Homeland’s Chip Johannessen with revisions by Walon Green, writer/executive producer of Killing Jesus. And Teri Weinberg, executive producer of all Killing movies, is on board to executive produce Saints & Strangers alongside Scharbo, Matthews and Overmyer.