April 29, 2014 11:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
A&E's 'The Returned' Adaptation Ordered Straight to Series
A&E is investing in The Returned.
The cable network has picked up its take on the French zombie drama straight to series with a 10-episode pickup, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Bates Motel co-showrunner Carlton Cuse will oversee the production alongside Raelle Tucker (True Blood). Cuse penned the first episode and he and Tucker will write and exec produce the series together. Casting will begin immediately on the series, a co-production of A+E Studios and FremantleMedia North America. Production will begin in the summer.
With the pickup, the Lost alum will have three shows on the air and two on A&E as The Returned joins the network's Psycho prequel; and Cuse will team with Guillermo del Toro to adapt book trilogy The Strain, which is due in the summer on FX.
Fabrice Gobert's Peabody-winning The Returned is based on the feature film Les Revenants from director Robin Campillo. The French series, which has been renewed for a second season stateside on Sundance TV, is an International Emmy-winning drama set in a French mountain town where several local people who have long been presumed dead suddenly reappear. They bring with them both positive and detrimental consequences. As families are reunited, the lives of those who were left behind are challenged on a physical and emotional level. Interpersonal relationships are examined with intrigue and depth as strange phenomena begin to occur.
"The Returned has the potential to be one of the most compelling drama series on cable, thanks to phenomenal scripts written by Carlton and Raelle," A&E GM David McKillop said. "We look forward to seeing their vision brought to life on screen."
The Returned was first put into development in September 2013, with Cuse attached to remake the French series. A&E's first season will expand Sundance's eight-episode first run.
Added FMNA CEO Thom Beers: "Les Revenants has proven to be both a critical and commercial success worldwide and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with A&E on this adaptation. Carlton and Raelle, the creative forces behind such fantastic television as Lost and True Blood, are the perfect combination to bring this complicated and provocative family drama to U.S. audiences."
The Returned is co-produced by A+E Studios and FremantleMedia North America in association with Haut et Court TV SAS, the producer of the French series. Cuse will exec produce via his Carlton Cuse Productions banner alongside Tucker for Angry Annie Productions. Beers, Craig Cegielski and Stefanie Berk oversee for FMNA, which will distribute the series internationally, excluding the U.S. and Canada. A+E Studios will distribute in the U.S. in Canada.
At A&E, The Returned joins a scripted lineup that includes Bates Motel and Longmire as the cabler continues to push into originals. Its latest drama, Those Who Kill, was canceled after two episodes and is now wrapping its run on sibling network Lifetime Movie Network, marking the latter's first scripted series.
The Returned marks the second series order to come out of A+E Studios following Lifetime's Unreal. The banner also is prepping TV movie Petals on the Wind for Lifetime and History miniseries Texas Rising.
The original French take of The Returned received widespread critical acclaim. The show landed on THR's chief TV critic Tim Goodman's list of the 20 best cable dramas of 2013, finishing at No. 3, behind only Breaking Bad and BBC America's Broadchurch. He called the series, "Absolutely mesmerizing and one of the creepiest, most compelling and original series I've seen in ages."
STORY: 'Resurrection' EPs on 'The Returned,' Departing From Source Material
A&E's take on The Returned comes as the concept of the undead returning to life remains a hot one on both broadcast and cable. Sundance has found success with the imported series and ABC's midseason drama Resurrection -- whose concept is nearly identical to the French series -- is based on Jason Mott's book. NBC, meanwhile, is prepping Babylon Fields -- a drama originally developed for CBS in 2007 about the dead regenerating and rising in New York. All these come as AMC has found tremendous success both in the U.S. and internationally with Robert Kirkman's zombie drama The Walking Dead.