EXCLUSIVE: Charter Communications continues to ramp up the original scripted series slate for its Spectrum cable systems. I have learned that the company is in advanced negotiations with Lionsgate Television for a two-season order to anthology series Manhunt. I hear the first of the two 10-episode seasons would chronicle the manhunt for domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph, known as the Olympic Park Bomber. It will be shepherded by the core creative team behind Manhunt: Unabomber, led by executive producer John Goldwyn and writer/executive producer Andrew Sodroski. Reps for Charter and Lionsgate declined comment.
Manhunt was originally set at Discovery Channel with its first installment, the 2017 Unabomber, marking the cable network’s first limited scripted series. Manhunt: Unabomber, starring Sam Worthington and Paul Bettany, drew strong reviews, delivered respectable numbers on Discovery and reportedly also did well in its SVOD window on Netflix. But in a Discovery Channel programming strategy change unveiled by Discovery CEO David Zaslav earlier this year, the network opted to get out of the scripted arena and focus on its core unscripted business. As a result, Discovery Channel did not proceed with a second installment of Manhunt.
Lionsgate, the studio behind the limited series, shopped it to other buyers, and I hear Charter Communications pursued the project aggressively. Charter signaled its entrance in the original scripted series arena by signing co-production deals with AMC Networks and Viacom and by hiring seasoned TV executive Katherine Pope to lead its original content efforts by securing rights on a cost-effective basis. Charter already produces programming via its regional sports networks and its exclusive Spectrum News services. And last month, the company closed a deal for a 13-episode series order to LA’s Finest, the Bad Boys offshoot drama starring Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba, which had been originally piloted by NBC.
Lionsgate itself has network ownership — its holdings include subsidiary Starz as well as Pop, a 50-50 venture with CBS. I hear it is conceivable that a Lionsgate network could get a second window on Manhunt.
The new seasons of Manhunt would mark the first order for producer Goldwyn under the first-look deal he signed with Lionsgate TV last fall.
Manhunt: Unabomber told the true story of FBI profiler Jim Fitzgerald’s (Worthington) relentless search for the elusive Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski (Bettany).
The subject matter for the second season would focus on Richard Jewell and Eric Rudolph. It would chronicle the tragic true story about the AT&T security guard Jewell, who was at first lauded and then accused of the bombings at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Rudolph was later convicted of the crime, one of a series of anti-abortion and anti-gay-motivated bombings he perpetrated across the southern United States between 1996 and 1998, which killed two people and injured over 120 others. Rudolph spent five years on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list until he was finally caught in 2003. Following Manhunt‘s concept, the show will dive deep into the dark mind of the terrorist.
Goldwyn served as consultant and executive producer of scripted content at Discovery Communications before he segued to a first-look deal with Lionsgate TV last October for his John Goldwyn Productions banner. In addition to Manhunt, Goldwyn produced hit series Dexter for Showtime, the TV miniseries Harley & The Davidsons for Discovery, and feature films including Baby Mama, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and the Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There.
Sodroski was a Medieval History major at Harvard and then got his MFA in screenwriting at Columbia before his script Holland, Michigan topped the 2013 Black List. It is currently in pre-production with Amazon Studios and Pacific View producing. Along with the rest of the Manhunt: Unabomber writers, Sodroski shared a WGA Award nomination. He is repped by CAA, Peter Dealbert of Pacific View Management and attorney David Fox.