Hulu is looking to break new ground with an innovative two-series drama project based on two John Grisham’s novels, the 1995 The Rainmaker and 2015 Rogue Lawyer. Envisioned as the first chapter in a larger franchise, tentatively titled The Grisham Universe, the ambitious multi-series project comes from writers Michael Seitzman (Quantico, Code Black), Jason Richman (Detroit 1-8-7), Grisham, ABC Signature and Seitzman and Christina Davis’ ABC Studios-based Maniac Productions.
Seitzman and Richman serve as co-showrunners on The Rainmaker-Rogue Lawyer, which is described as “two books, two shows, one shared storyline.” They will work on both shows, which have assembled a writers room, with Seitzman focused primarily on The Rainmaker and Richman on Rogue Lawyer. The room will work simultaneously on the two series, with a goal to produce eight scripts for each.
Each series will be based on one of the books and will have its own storyline and cast but the two shows’ plots will also be linked as they will share a villain, and some (but not all) characters from one show will appear on the other. (The villain is a character from one of the books though his/her identity is being kept a secret.) Essentially, every episode of every series will be a crossover episode.
The plan is for the two series — both set in present day — to be filmed concurrently. They will be independent of each other, with viewers able to watch “vertically”, viewing all episodes of one series without the other and be told a story. Additionally, people will have the option to watch “horizontally”: the first episode of The Rainmaker, the first episode of Rogue Lawyer, then the second episode of each, etc. The intertwined stories with a murder mystery connected to a larger conspiracy will be designed so that either way of consuming the two series would work, and the leads in one series would gradually become supporting characters in the other.
I hear the idea is to organically build out a bigger John Grisham universe with other books developed as parallel series. If it comes to fruition, characters from others Grisham novels may be introduced on The Rainmaker and Rogue Lawyer before they anchor their own series. Grisham’s books lend themselves to crossovers as many take place in the same location. The fictional town of Clanton, Mississippi, is a popular setting in his novels, with Memphis, Biloxi and New Orleans also used as backdrops.
I hear Grisham met with Seitzman and Richman and gave his blessing for the out-of-the-box adaptation. He will serve as an executive producer on the series alongside the duo and Davis.
ABC Signature Studios, the cable/streaming division of ABC Studios, has three series at Hulu, the returning Marvel’s Runaways and the upcoming Dollface and limited series Little Fires Everywhere, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.