M. Night Shyamalan is getting into the TV business with Fox.
Fox Tuesday announced the Wayne-based filmmaker would direct and executive-produce a "long-form event," "Wayward Pines," based on the novel "Pines" by Blake Crouch.
For "long-form event," I would read "miniseries" of the 10- to 12-part variety that broadcast networks haven't done regularly in many years, but Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly told me he prefers to avoid the m-word because "miniseries got a negative connotation. It's kind of thought of like fodder and cut-rate fare. If anything, we're going to try to emulate the HBO model, which is high-end talent, big in scope -- epic -- productions, which probably will have movie stars and top-notch talent, people who want to do television but are not going to sign up for five years."
Here's how the network's describing the project:
"'Wayward Pines' is an intense, mind-bending thriller evocative of the classic cult hit "Twin Peaks." Secret Service agent Ethan Burke arrives in the bucolic town of Wayward Pines, ID, on a mission to find two missing federal agents. But instead of answers, Ethan's investigation only turns up more questions. What's wrong with Wayward Pines? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the life he knew, from the husband and father he was, until he must face the terrifying reality that he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive."
So wouldn't Reilly have wanted an original, not an adaptation, from "The Sixth Sense" writer and director?
"I got this as a spec script," Reilly said during Fox's portion of the Television Critics Association's winter meetings in Pasadena, Calif.
"He's pitched a number of things to us...This came in as a spec script. I was thrilled. It was based on an Amazon bestseller. The script was excellent, it's the closest thing to 'Twin Peaks' I've ever seen -- and if I made a list of directors, he'd be the first one I'd go to and the beauty of it was, he was attached."
The production's aiming for 2014, but it's not yet clear how it, or some other "event" projects the network is developing, would be scheduled. Most will have "a beginning, middle and an end," but if "'Wayward Pines' worked, there could be a sequel."
-- Ellen Gray