EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic has greenlighted Barkskins, a scripted drama series based on the 2016 bestselling novel of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx (The Shipping News, Brokeback Mountain) which traces the story of America’s deforestation. The network has given a 10-episode to the project, which hails from Elwood Reid (The Chi, The Bridge), Fox 21 Television Studios and Scott Rudin Productions.
Reid created the series and will serve as showrunner. He will executive produce along with Rudin, Eli Bush and Garrett Basch. The series is slated to go into production in 2019 and will premiere on National Geographic globally in 172 countries.
Called “a towering work of environmental fiction” and “a spectacular survey of America’s forests dramatized by a cast of well-hewn characters” by the Washington Post, Proulx’s Barkskins spans over 300 years. It chronicles the deforestation of the New World from the arrival of Europeans into the contemporary era of global warming through the stories of two immigrants to New France, René Sel and Charles Duquet, who work as wood-cutters — barkskins — and of their descendants.
Nat Geo partnered with Scott Rudin Prods. ahead of Barkskins’ June 2016 release, optioning the rights to the book for development in January of that year.
The series will be overseen by Carolyn Bernstein, Nat Geo’s EVP, Global Scripted Content & Documentary Films, and Bert Salke, President of Fox 21 Television Studios.
Proulx is the author of eight books including the novels The Shipping News and the story collection Close Range, which included Brokeback Mountain, originally published in The New Yorker. Her many honors include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and a PEN/Faulkner Award. The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain, were both made into features.
At Nat Geo, Fox 21 also produces the network’s flagship scripted series, the Emmy-winning anthology drama Genius, which is headed into its third season. Scott Rudin Prods., which has a first-look deal with Fox Networks Group’s Fox, FX and Nat Geo., also is behind upcoming FX series Devs. Reid most recently executive produced the breakout Showtime drama series The Chi. He previously co-created and executive produced/ran FX’s adaptation of The Bridge and is also a novelist. He is repped by WME and attorney David Colden.