EXCLUSIVE: Starz has ordered a reboot of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ classic 18th Century novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons). The premium network has handed the series, from Colin Callender’s Playground Entertainment and Tony Krantz’ Flame Ventures, an eight-part order.
The tale of seduction, betrayal and revenge is being written and showrun by Harriet Warner, the showrunner of TNT’s forthcoming drama Tell Me Your Secrets, who has also worked on The Alienist and long-running BBC drama Call The Midwife.
The story, which was first published in 1782, follows the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, two narcissistic rivals and ex-lovers who use seduction to control and exploit others. It explores the world of the French aristocracy shortly before the French revolution. The series will tell the origin story of the early years of both characters when they meet as passionate young lovers in the slums of 18th century Paris. It will be told from the perspective of Merteuil, informed by her line from the novel, “Born to avenge my sex and conquer yours, I have succeeded in inventing strategies for doing so that before me had never been conceived.”
Callender (right) told Deadline, “In Harriet Warner’s brilliantly re-imagined world of Dangerous Liaisons the character of Merteuil is placed center stage as a woman quietly challenging the status quo of sexual politics, holding others to account, particularly for the abuse of sexual power and male privilege. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, a story about the claiming of female power in a world where women are objects of male domination feels strikingly timely and powerfully relevant.”
He added, “Tony Krantz and I are excited to be making this with Starz and Lionsgate who have fully embraced Harriet’s bold vision for this rich period drama which has at its core young people in love in a complex world of promiscuity, ambition, and status anxiety – a world where the gap between rich and poor is greater than ever. This could just as easily be a story of modern day America as 18th Century Paris.”
Dangerous Liaisons was previously adapted into a movie starring starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer in 1988, by Christopher Hampton from his own play. Hampton was initially involved in the latest small screen remake, which was formerly in development at British public broadcaster the BBC back in 2013.
However, while Hampton will be an exec producer on this version, he will not be involved in a writing capacity. He will exec produce alongside Krantz and Callender, who previously worked together on NBC and Sky co-pro Dracula, Bethan Jones (Sherlock) and Scott Huff (The Spanish Princess). Coline Abert (Les Revenants), James Dormer (Medici) and Rita Kalnejais (Babyteeth) will also write for the series.
It is the latest adaptation for Playground, which recently scored a remake of F Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is The Night with Hulu and All Creatures Great and Small for Viacom’s Channel 5 in the UK, while 24 exec producer Krantz (left) is currently working on Netflix crime action drama Wu Assassins. Senior Vice Presidents of Original Programming Kathryn Tyus-Adair and Karen Bailey are the Starz executives in charge of production.
Deadline understands that it will be a “sweeping, sexy and expensive” take on the books and is set to shoot in the Czech Republic. The BBC is no longer involved.
It will be available via Starz in the U.S. and Canada as well as on the Starzplay international streaming service via the Apple TV app in Europe and Latin America. The eight episode season will also be available locally on Starzplay in the UK via Prime Video Channels and Virgin Media, in Germany and France via Prime Video Channels and in Spain via Vodafone and Orange TV.
Warner is represented by Casarotto, Ramsay & Associates and Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown. Abert is represented by United Agents. Dormer is represented by Casarotto, Ramsay & Associates and Kalnejais is represented by 42.