EXCLUSIVE: Peacock’s reboot of Battlestar Galactica has found its world builder. Michael Lesslie, who was the lead writer and showrunner of AMC’s spy drama The Little Drummer Girl and penned scripts for Macbeth and Assassin’s Creed, will create, write and executive produce the series.
The new Battlestar Galactica comes from Mr Robot and Homecoming exec producer Sam Esmail, who struck a big overall deal with NBCU’s Universal Content Productions last year. It is produced by Esmail Corp and UCP, with Esmail and Chad Hamilton also exec producing.
NBCUni’s Universal produced the original Glen A. Larson-created Battlestar Galactica series for ABC. UCP, then known as Universal Cable Productions, produced the successful Ronald D. Moore revamp that ran from 2004-2009 on the then-Sci-Fi Channel.
The original Battlestar Galactica centered on the last group of humans on the verge of extinction after a series of wars with a robot race, The Cylons, destroyed the Twelve Colonies. All the humans are left in one remaining battleship group, anchored by the Galactica, as they search for their last option for survival: a fabled Thirteenth Colony known as Earth.
The series ran on ABC for just one season in 1978-1979 starring Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict and Lorne Greene as Commander Adama, followed by a short-lived sequel that lasted 10 episodes in 1980. But it did spawn several book and comics series, a board game and a video game as it gained cult status, if not commercial success.
Moore resuscitated the franchise with a three-hour Sci Fi Channel miniseries in 2003 produced by UCP and starring Edward James Olmos in Greene’s commander role. Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackoff and Grace Park also starred, and the success led to a series order. That Battlestar Galactica, a critical hit, ran four seasons. A prequel spinoff to Moore’s series, Caprica, was canceled with five episodes remaining in its sole season. Several TV movies followed. Lesslie will work up a reimagined world.
Lesslie’s other credits include writing a contemporary screenplay of Hamlet for Riz Ahmed to star in, for Netflix. He also has a number of projects for Storyteller Productions, which he set up with PJ van Sandwijk. Storyteller’s first feature documentary film, the iconic director Errol Morris’ take on Steve Bannon and titled American Dharma, premiered in 2018, and its drama and documentary includes projects with the likes of Ron Howard, Doug Liman, William Nicholson, Guy Ritchie, Morris, Steven Knight, Alex Gibney and Polly Stenham.
Lesslie said, “I am beyond excited to be taking on this iconic and inspirational show. As a lifelong devotee, I know that the possibilities of Battlestar Galactica’s world are infinite and that each iteration has raised the bar for epic and intelligent sci-fi storytelling. The teams at Esmail Corp, UCP and Peacock are second to none, and I already know that we are going to honour Glen A Larson and Ronald D Moore’s landmark series and break new boundaries with our own vision. It’s a dream come true – one I just can’t wait to share with fans, new and old alike. So say we all.”
Lesslie is represented by Grandview, Cassarotto, and Frankfurt Kurnit. UCP is a divison of NBCUniversal Content Studios.