EXCLUSIVE: Freeform has put into development Turn of the Screw, a fresh modern spin on Henry James’ supernatural thriller, from Alexandra McNally (Under the Dome), Josh Berman (Drop Dead Diva, CSI) and Sony Pictures Television, where McNally and Berman’s Osprey Productions are under overall deals.
A twisty Gothic soap reimagined for modern times, the series will follow Elena, a Mexican-American nanny who is hired to care for the two children of a widowed-father at their summer home on idyllic Bainbridge Island. It seems like the perfect job with potential for a ‘happily ever after’ ending, but things take a sinister turn when Elena begins seeing ghosts and her grip on what is real and what is not blurs.
McNally will pen the pilot script and executive produce with Berman and Osprey’s Head of Development & Production Chris King. Sony Pictures TV is the studio.
The Turn of the Screw is an 1898 horror novella by Henry James that first appeared in serial format in Collier’s Weekly magazine (January 27 – April 16, 1898). It’s been in continuous print for more than 100 years.
“The Turn of the Screw is one of the scariest novels of all time. Yet the themes are as relevant today as they were more than a century ago,” said Berman.
The novella has been adapted numerous times in radio drama, film, stage, and television, including a 1950 Broadway play, and the 1961 film The Innocents. In 1968, the ABC daytime drama Dark Shadows featured a storyline based on The Turn of the Screw. In it, the ghosts of Quentin Collins and Beth Chavez haunted the west wing of Collinwood, possessing the two children living in the mansion. In early episodes of Star Trek: Voyager, Captain Kathryn Janeway is seen on the holodeck acting out scenes from a holonovel which appears to be based on The Turn of the Screw.
McNally served as a writer and co-executive producer on CBS’ Under The Dome and co-producer and writer on USA’s White Collar. She began her career as a writer on the CW’s Gossip Girl and Fox’s Melrose Place. She previously developed series at CBS and the CW.
Berman began his career as a writer on the first season of CBS’ CSI. He was on staff for six years, rising to executive producer. Berman went on to serve as a consulting producer on Fox’s Bones for four seasons, before creating Drop Dead Diva for Sony TV, which ran on Lifetime for six seasons. He was also a consulting producer on Sony TV’s NBC drama series The Blacklist. Most recently Berman created ABC’s Notorious and served as an executive producer on Daytime Divas. Under his Sony Pictures TV deal, Berman also is executive producing Strangers, a one-hour drama based on the bestselling book by Dean Koontz, from Teen Wolf and Criminal Minds creator Jeff Davis, which has received a script commitment plus penalty at Fox.
King’s credits include co-executive producing Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, producing AMC’s A Path To Honor and Foo Fighters: Back and Forth.
McNally is repped by UTA, Literate and Gang Tyre. Berman and Osprey Productions are repped by CAA and Hansen Jacobson.