May 13, 2013 3:01pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Billy the Kid' Limited Series in Development at Fox
Just hours after handing out series orders to its first two limited series in a 24 reboot and Wayward Pines, Fox used its upfront presentation to announce development on another entry in its push for high-profile event entries.
The network is teaming with Homicide: Life on the Street's Tom Fontana to develop a limited-run drama about Billy the Kid.
The potential event series would tell the origin story of one of the Old West's most notorious outlaws. The project is set at a time when America was in its most vibrant and colorful adolescence -- from the 1860s slums of New York to the violent and lawless American West of the 1870s. Yet, despite its historical backdrop, Billy the Kid is a story with surprising relevancy, focusing on America's twin obsession with two seemingly timeless subjects: celebrity and guns.
Born William Henry McCarty, Billy the Kid was said to have killed 21 men -- his first at age 16 -- before his own demise at 21. A true original gangster, Billy the Kid was the first American celebrated in his own time as an outlaw hero. But the legend ultimately grew larger than the man himself and proved to be his undoing, as he spent the final years of his short life in a relentless battle to clear his own name. The series examines the various mythologies that have sprouted up about Billy's life, making use of all the conflicting facts to paint a more three-dimensional portrait of this American folk hero.
Fontana will pen the project, which hails from by Halfire-CORE Entertainment and the Levinson/Fontana Co. Barry Levinson is on board to exec produce.
Billythe Kid joins a rapidly growing roster of event series in development since Fox launched its longform unit. As the network looks to bridge the gap between traditional fall and midseason launches, Reilly noted Monday that the longform series will help Fox connect the traditional seasons as it shifts to more of a year-round programming block of original scripted programming. The event series has taken off across both cable and broadcasters since the success of History's Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible as networks look to lure top names for shorter time commitments in a bid for prestige and eyeballs.
Fox also has event series Blood Brothers (from Band of Brothers' Bruce C. McKenna), a Shogun remake from Michael De Luca and Nigel Williams and The People v. O.J. Simpson, which hails from Golden Globe winners Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (The People vs. Larry Flint).