EXCLUSIVE: There is change at the helm of Starz’s upcoming spy thriller series The Rook, from Lionsgate and Liberty Global. Lisa Zwerling (Betrayal) and Karyn Usher (Bones) have come onboard as showrunners. They join The Night Manager‘s Stephen Garrett who remains an executive producer. Meanwhile, Twilight‘s Stephenie Meyer who, via her production company originally brought The Rook to Lionsgate, is stepping away due to differences in creative visions of the project.
The behind-the-scenes change comes early in the production of The Rook, which is currently filming the first two episodes of its first-season order in London. The showrunner switch will have no impact on production, which will continue as scheduled. The Rook is slated to air on Starz in the U.S., and across Liberty Global’s international platforms in 2019.
Zwerling and Usher will executive produce via their Carpool Entertainment production company alongside Garrett under his Character 7 banner. Playwrights and screenwriters Sam Holcroft and Al Muriel, who wrote The Rook adaptation based on Daniel O’Malley’s novel, serve as co-executive producers. Kari Skogland is directing the premiere episode.
“We’re pleased to have Karyn and Lisa leading our creative team on The Rook and to see our collaboration with Lionsgate and Liberty Global reach fruition,” said Starz President of Programming Carmi Zlotnik. “We have incredible showrunners, great directors, a talented cast, and an amazing property that reflects the strong and growing line-up of high-profile premium series that we’re bringing to our audiences.”
The Rook falls under the overall deal Zwerling and Usher have at Lionsgate TV. As part of the multi-year pact, the duo has sold multiple projects to premium cable and streaming platforms through Carpool, including Kick-Ass at Showtime and Demons at Hulu.
“We’re excited to expand our longstanding relationship with the incredibly talented duo, Lisa and Karyn,” said Lionsgate EVP and Head of Worldwide Scripted Television Chris Selak. “They’re the perfect addition to the creative team leading this high-profile premium series in collaboration with our partners at Starz and Liberty Global. They will do justice to this thrilling story, and we can hardly wait to bring their vision of The Rook to fans.”
The Rook tells the story of Myfanwy Thomas, a woman who wakes up in London with no memory of who she is and no way to explain the circle of dead bodies around her. When she discovers she’s a high ranking official in the Checquy, Britain’s secret service for people with paranormal abilities, she’ll have to navigate the dangerous and complex world of the agency to uncover who wiped her memory and why she’s a target. The cast of the series includes Emma Greenwell, Joely Richardson, Olivia Munn, Adrian Lester, Ronan Raftery, Catherine Steadman and Jon Fletcher.
“The talent that Lionsgate and Starz have assembled both in front of and behind the camera to create The Rook is world-class. Lisa and Karyn’s vision for ‘The Rook’ is truly exciting,” said Liberty Global Chief Programming Officer Bruce Mann. “We can’t wait to launch The Rook across Liberty Global’s European and Liberty Latin America’s footprints.”
Zwerling and Usher and are repped by WME and attorneys Wendy Kirk and Patti Felker.