EXCLUSIVE: HBO Max has put in development Outliers, an anthology series based on Malcolm Gladwell’s New York Times bestselling book. It hails from Brian Grazer, Imagine Television Studios and CBS Television Studios. Greg Walker, showrunner of the DC Universe series Titans, will write and executive produce the series, with Gladwell also executive producing.
Outliers will take a detailed look at why people are successful, what makes them successful and at what cost. Part historical drama, part biopic, each season will profile individuals through an unique lens, looking at the specific historical situation which led to their outsized imprint on society and what ultimately makes them an Outlier.
The first season will focus on Dr. Anthony Fauci, pioneer and leading expert in the field of Immunology, and lead member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. It will be based in part on Michael Specter’s New Yorker article, “How Anthony Fauci Became America’s Doctor.”
Over the past 35 years, Dr. Fauci has advised six Presidents on HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world. He is one of the country’s most trusted medical experts, credited with being pragmatic and adhering to the facts.
There is no talent attached yet. Dr. Fauci famously quipped in a CNN interview earlier this year that he would like Brad Pitt to portray him. The Oscar winner obliged in a skit on Saturday Night Live.
Imagine’s Brian Grazer (Genius), Ron Howard (Genius), and Samie Kim Falvey will executive produce with Walker and Gladwell. James Seidman will oversee project for Imagine.
“I am thrilled to be working with my longtime friend Malcolm Gladwell on this creative collaboration,” said Grazer. “Malcolm and I have known each other for over fifteen years, and every time I speak to him, I find it to be a richer day. I’ve been a fan of all his books, and Outliers provides the perfect framework for a groundbreaking series.”
Outliers in paperback spent 274 weeks on the NY Times bestseller list and has been translated to 34 languages. It profiles a number of successful people, including Bill Gates. (Fauci was not featured in it.)
“The point of my book Outliers was that we need to tell the story of success in different ways, looking at the way talent is affected by luck and circumstance and culture and context. I’m thrilled that Imagine wants to take the same approach to storytelling on television,” said Gladwell.
In addition to Outliers, Gladwell is the author of four other New York Times bestsellers: The Tipping Point, Blink, What the Dog Saw and David and Goliath. He is the host of the podcast Revisionist History and is a staff writer at The New Yorker.
Walker is showrunner and executive producer of the DC Universe series, Titans, from Greg Berlanti and Akiva Goldsman, which is heading into its third season. Previously, he showran Vegas, Extant and Without A Trace. Walker is also currently developing Ten Borders at Nat Geo with Tom McCarthy and Scott Free, based on a New Yorker article detailing on Syrian refugee’s journey across ten borders to gain safety.
“We are thrilled to bring Malcolm’s definitive book on achievement to TV. He and Greg have crafted a series that tells truly unique and often unknown stories about figures who’ve shaped our modern world,” said Falvey.
Imagine Television Studios’ slate includes the recently announced Joe Exotic series starring Nicolas Cage, Wu-Tang: An American Saga for Hulu, Why Women Kill for CBS All Access, Swagger for Apple and Filthy Rich for Fox.
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