I have learned that FX’s Ryan Murphy limited series Katrina: American Crime Story is moving full steam ahead, acquiring the book Five Days At Memorial by Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink as source material. Scott Rudin, who had bought the rights to the book shortly after it came out in 2013, has come on board as an executive producer alongside the Emmy-winning ACS trio of Murphy, Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson. I hear Fink also is expected to be involved in the project, which details the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans, and the decision by medical staff, led by Dr. Anna Pou, to euthanize critically ill patients after being trapped in the hospital for days without power.
In a followup to her Emmy-winning turn as Marcia Clark on People v. O.J. Simpson: ACS, I hear Sarah Paulson will play Dr. Pou in Katrina, which is currently looking for a writer/showrunner to pen the adaptation. Katrina is expected to start production in the spring and premiere in 2019 as the third installment in the ACS franchise following People v. O.J. Simpson and the upcoming The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
Katrina was originally supposed to air second but the idea took longer to gel as the producers had been trying to figure out what part of the sprawling story of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath to tell, and Five Days at Memorial is giving them a story engine to do that.
I hear Murphy had also pursued Five Days At Memorial, published by Crown, when it was acquired by Rudin and his Scott Rudin Prods. to adapt as a movie. I hear that the movie rights to the book recently lapsed, and Murphy approached Rudin who loved the idea about turning the book into a limited series.
I hear no other cast members besides Paulson are currently attached to Katrina but the producers would try to find new characters for some of the actors that had been previously earmarked for the project, including Annette Bening, Dennis Quaid and Matthew Broderick, to play.
In Five Days At Memorial, Fink, a physician as well as a writer, takes an unflinching look at the decisions doctors made at Memorial Medical Center, a hospital in New Orleans that was overwhelmed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.
The doctors, who lost electrical power and backup and were not supported by hospital owners who had no generator mechanic on staff or even an evacuation plan, were forced to make calculated decisions on which patients to save.
Some of those who were not expected to make it were shot up with morphine and left to die. This was four days into a devastating hurricane where generators failed, the intensive care wing sweltered in darkness and chaos and gunshots rang out in the areas outside the hospital. A day later, the entire hospital was evacuated.
The book focuses on an attempt to prosecute Dr. Pou and two nurses for homicide after an investigation showed elevated levels of morphine and other drugs in 23 patients who died at the hospital. Of those, 20 were ruled homicides. Fink won the Pulitzer for a dispatch she wrote as an assignment for ProPublica and The New Times Magazine in 2009.