“First do no harm.” Jamie Dornan, Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater are set to star in Dr. Death, a limited drama series from UCP based on the Wondery podcast about a sinister doctor who treats his Hippocratic Oath about the same way he treats his patients.
With the high-caliber talent on board, UCP is shopping the project to networks and streaming platforms. The studio took the same approach with two other series based on podcasts, Homecoming, which was sold to Amazon with Julia Roberts attached, and Dirty John, which landed at Bravo with Connie Britton in negotiations to star. Both those projects scored two-season pickups.
Dr. Death explores the twisted mind of a sociopath and the gross negligence of the system designed to protect the most defenseless among us. It tells the disturbing true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch (Dornan), a rising star in the Dallas medical community. Young, charismatic and ostensibly brilliant, he was building a flourishing neurosurgery practice when everything suddenly changed. Patients entered his operating room for complex but routine spinal surgeries and left permanently maimed or dead. As victims piled up, two fellow surgeons (Baldwin and Slater) and a young Assistant District Attorney set out to stop him.
Baldwin plays Robert Henderson, a quiet, deliberative and methodical neurosurgeon who believes wholeheartedly both in the system in which he rose through the ranks and that anything worth doing shouldn’t be rushed. It should be gotten right. Slater is vascular surgeon Randall Kirby, who, on the other hand, is brash, impulsive and more than willing to burn that system to the ground in the name of justice. There’s a time and a place for deliberation and there’s a time and a place to just get things done.
Together, they form something of a Woodward-and-Bernstein duo who constantly will be at odds in terms of their personalities and their methods but on the exact same page as it relates to their endgame.
Dr. Death is executive produced by Patrick Macmanus (Happy!) under his overall deal with UCP, which also recently produced Hulu’s The Act. Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch executive produce via Escape Artists, as well as Hernan Lopez and Marshall Lewy of Wondery, whose Dr. Death podcast has been heard by more than 50 million people.
UCP acquired the rights to Dr. Death before the podcast had premiered.
Dornan is repped by UTA, Troika and Sloane Offer; Baldwin with CAA and Cavalry Media; and Slater is repped by UTA. Wondery and Escape Artists are with UTA.