EXCLUSIVE: Josh Schwartz’s 13-year journey to bring to the screen John Green’s best-selling novel Looking For Alaska has come to a successful conclusion. Hulu is finalizing a deal for an eight-episode limited series from Paramount Television and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire.
Schwartz wrote the pilot for the project, which garnered interest from multiple buyers, and will serve as executive producer and showrunner. Savage executive produces with Green, Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters as well as Marty Bowen and Isaac Klausner of Temple Hill, which is behind two feature adaptations of Green novels, The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns. Fake Empire exec Lis Rowinski will co-executive produce.
Looking for Alaska thrusts us into the perspective of Miles “Pudge” Halter who is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . After. Nothing is ever the same.
Schwartz first fell in love with Looking For Alaska in 2005 when he was given a then-unpublished manuscript for what would become Green’s debut novel. That was years before Green penned his hugely popular teen book The Fault in Our Stars, which was made into an equally successful movie.
Schwartz had just burst into the scene as the youngest ever series creator with his breakout hit teen drama The O.C. He took the manuscript to then-Paramount Pictures chief Gail Berman who, in her previous post as Fox Entertainment president, had greenlighted The O.C. Berman bought the project with Schwartz attached to write the adaptation and potentially direct the movie.
The project subsequently went through a number of incarnations with different writers and directors and languished for years until Schwartz re-approached Green and the producers on the film with the idea of making it into a limited series.
Once Green was on board, Paramount TV president Amy Powell was instrumental in getting the rights from the feature division, paving the way to the series, exec produced by Waters, Tuchinsky and Bowen who had been attached as producers to the project when it was developed as a movie, along with Bowen’s longtime Temple Hill partner Wyck Godfrey, now president of Paramount’s Motion Picture Group. Meanwhile, Temple Hill’s Klausner had been instrumental in keeping Looking For Alaska alive when it was on the feature side and once came within three days from shooting.
Looking For Alaska was published in 2005 but it wasn’t until 2012—seven years later and the year Green’s sixth novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was released—that his debut novel first cracked the New York Times Best Seller list, where it remained for many years, including 18 weeks at #4 of the Young Adult Paperback list. Green was awarded the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award for Looking for Alaska, which PBS recently included in its Greatest American Read – 100 Most Beloved Books.
Like a number of recent projects put in development or ordered to series by Hulu, Looking for Alaska is adapted from widely-known IP. Additionally, the novel resonates with a millennial, cord-cutting demographic that streamers, including Hulu, are after.
This is Schwartz and Savage’s second series at Hulu where they also have hit new drama Marvel’s Runaways, recently renewed for a second season. Additionally, the duo is behind Dynasty on the CW, also renewed for Season 2. Schwartz, Savage and Fake Empire are repped by WME and attorney Joel McKuin. Schwartz is additionally repped by Mikkel Bondesen.
At Hulu, Paramount TV also has Catch-22, a six-part limited series from George Clooney. The company’s slate also includes the upcoming Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan starring John Krasinski on Amazon; 13 Reasons Why on Netflix; The Alienist on TNT; First Wives Club, debuting on Paramount Network in 2019; Shooter on USA; crime drama Berlin Station on Epix; The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV; and Maniac, a dark comedy series directed by Cary Fukunaga, starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill for Netflix.
In addition to The Fault in Our Stars, Bowen’s credits with Godfrey include the recent critically praised Love, Simon, and both the Maze Runner franchise and The Twilight Saga.
Frequent collaborators Tuchinsky and Waters’ credits include acclaimed indie 500 Days of Summer, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and Bad Santa 2.