EXCLUSIVE: As the TV biz prepares to celebrate another ground breaking year tonight, underwritten in no small effort by feature talent, the remarkable thing to consider is how much more of this is coming. Here’s one that has great potential: HBO and Paramount Television are making deals to turn the 2010 hit film Shutter Island into a TV series. Tentatively titled Ashecliffe, the plan is for the pilot to be directed by Martin Scorsese from a script by Dennis Lehane, who wrote the bestselling thriller novel that Scorsese and screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis turned into the hit film that Leonardo DiCaprio starred in.
Ashecliffe is the name of the isolated mental hospital where the movie took place, and the series begins before the events of the film. The focus is the past of hospital, and the secrets and misdeeds perpetrated by its founders who erected the hospital in the early 20th Century and developed the methods of treatment use for the mentally ill. Scorsese directed the pilot for Boardwalk Empire and he is posting the pilot for the unititled 70s rock n roll project he is doing with Mick Jagger, Victoria Pearman, Rick Yorn, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, and Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter. Winter wrote it and he also scripted Scorsese and DiCaprio’s Oscar nominated last film, The Wolf Of Wall Street.
I’m told the series was an idea by Paramount TV head Amy Powell, who brought it to Scorsese and LBI’s Yorn and Chris Donnelly and Brad Fischer, a producer of the original movie who is now partners in Mythology Entertainment with Kalogridis and James Vanderbilt. They enlisted Lehane, the Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone author who loved the idea and expand the vision of his bestselling novel. Scorsese, Lehane, Fischer, Appian Way’s DiCaprio and Jennifer Killoran Davisson, Kalogridis, Yorn, Donnelly, Koskoff, Phoenix’s Mike Medavoy and Arnie Messer, will be exec producers. Tom Bernardo is working with Lehane as a co-writer of the format.
This is a big one for Paramount’s year-old TV division, which has been actively mining the studio’s movie library. It recently received a 13-episode, straight-to-series pickup by sibling cable network Nickelodeon for a live-action musical comedy based on the 2003 Paramount feature School Of Rock, with the film’s director Richard Linklater and producer Scott Rudin on board. The company also is producing a live staging of Grease for Fox. Its development slate includes a Joe Carnahan crime drama inspired by Narc, a re-imagination of the Jim Carrey starrer The Truman Show, and a series adaptation of Ghost. There are deals to make, and timing on Ashecliffe will be determined by the availability of Scorsese, who next directs an adaptation of the Shusako Endo novel Silence, which Paramount acquired for a possible 2015 Oscar berth if they can get done in time. Production begins early next year in Taiwan.