EXCLUSIVE: Jack Reacher author Lee Child has teamed up with Fremantle-backed producer Dancing Ledge Productions to develop a Black Mirror-meets-Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri true crime anthology drama series.
Child has partnered with Dancing Ledge, which has worked on series including Netflix’s Delhi Crime and HBO co-pro The New Pope, on Lee Child: True Crime, a series that dramatizes the stories of real-life men and women from around the world who have been driven to stand up and put their lives on the line, fighting for justice in the face of great danger.
Laurence Bowen told Deadline that the project originated when he had just seen Martin McDonagh’s Frances McDormand-fronted dark comedy, which itself was inspired by a real-life crime in Texas. He added that they wanted to find real-life Jack Reachers.
“I had the idea of doing a true crime Black Mirror, a series where each episode is going to be connected by a strong brand, mood and tone. All of the episodes will end with a great sense of hope and redemption. A lot of true crime drama tends to be about the famous and infamous and that’s great but Lee and I were fascinated by ordinary people, the people that don’t get written about. If we can find them, there’s something so interesting about those people who have been forced to find something inside themselves, there’s nothing quite like that,” he added.
Dancing Ledge, which is 25% owned by American Gods producer Fremantle, has put together a research team to comb through real-life crime stories from the U.S., Canada, El Salvador and Thailand and is now on the hunt for a showrunner to guide the project before taking it out to broadcasters in the U.S. and around the world.
Bowen said that anthology series are coming back in fashion, with the likes of Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone, as “people like to graze”. “The idea of tapping into what Lee Childs represents to a global audience is really interesting. We’re taking him as a brand rather than simply adapting something he wrote,” he added.
Bowen said that he pitched the idea of the series to Child on a bench outside of the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival.
Child’s Jack Reacher series has been published in over 100 territories and a Reacher book is sold globally every nine seconds with the stories being adapted into a Tom Cruise fronted franchise.
“He appeals to such a cross section of people; he’s got the mass market but also has the respect of the cross section of other writers,” Bowen added.
In fact, Child actually started his career at Granada, which was part of UK broadcaster ITV, and was involved in series including Brideshead Revisited, Prime Suspect and Cracker. He was unexpectedly made redundant by Granada in 1995, which lead to the first Jack Reacher novel.
Child said, “We all read thrillers and watch movies where an average person goes to extraordinary lengths, to defend family or tribe, or to seek justice. It turns out that reality goes even further – we have some amazing stories to tell, some of them barely believable, but they’re all true.”
Child is repped by APA and the Darley Anderson Literary Agency.