EXCLUSIVE: In very competitive situation, Netflix has landed Ratched, a marquee new drama series from Ryan Murphy, with Sarah Paulson set to star as a younger version of the diabolical Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the film’s producer Michael Douglas set to executive produce alongside Murphy. In one of the biggest deals of the year, which I hear followed a bidding war among Netflix, Hulu and Apple, Ratched scored a two-season, 18-episode, straight-to-series order at Netflix. Production on the drama, from Fox 21 TV Studios, is slated to begin sometime in mid-2018, with Murphy directing the opening episode as he does on all of his series.
Like he has done before, Emmy winner Murphy is taking a chance on a newcomer writer with Ratched. The project was created by Evan Romansky who, fresh out of film school, penned the script on spec. It was slipped to Murphy by CAA agent Joe Cohen. Murphy took it in, attached one of his muses, Emmy-winning American Horror Story and American Crime Story star Sarah Paulson, to play the title character and spent a year securing the rights to the character and the participation of the Saul Zaentz estate and Douglas.
Ratched is an origins story, beginning in 1947, which will follow Ratched’s (Paulson) journey and evolution from nurse to full-fledged monster. The series will track her murderous progression through the mental health care system.
Executive producing Ratched are Murphy, Douglas, as well as Aleen Keshishian, Margaret Riley and Jacob Epstein of Lighthouse Management & Media, which manages Romansky. They are joined by Romansky, who will co-executive produce. Paulson will be a producer alongside Paul Zaentz of the Saul Zaentz Company, which owns the rights to the Cuckoo’s Nest feature. Fox 21 is the studio, producing via Murphy’s 20th Century Fox TV overall deal.
Douglas and Paul Zaentz’s late uncle, Saul Zaentz, produced the classic 1976 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest movie, winning together a Best Picture Oscar in 1976. The film, based on Ken Kesey’s novel, introduced audiences to the character of Nurse Ratched, who instantly became one of the most mythical pop culture villains of all time. Ratched was played in the movie by Louise Fletcher who won a Best Actress Academy Award for the role, one of five Oscars for Cuckoo’s Nest, along with Best Picture, Best Director (Milos Forman), Best Actor (Jack Nicholson) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman).
Ratched marks Murphy’s first streaming series. It brings the prolific producer’s portfolio to six on-air series, joining his Fox and FX stable of shows American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Pose, Feud and 911.
It also makes for a Hollywood fairytale story for Romansky, a first-time writer whose script became a big package and landed a two-season order.
Paulson, coming off an Emmy win for Murphy’s The People Vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, returns to his American Horror Story franchise with a starring role in the Cult installment, which premiered last night. She will segue to Ratched after filming the lead in the Katrina installment of American Crime Story, based on the book Five Days at Memorial, in the spring. She also has three high profile movies coming up, including the star-studded Ocean’s Eight and Steven Spielberg’s The Post.
The origin story of another famous film villain, Psycho‘s Norman Bates, was recently explored in the well-received A&E series Bates Motel.
Murphy, Paulson and Romansky are repped by CAA. Douglas is with UTA,