March 20, 2013 12:48pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Fox Developing 'Shogun,' O.J. Simpson Longform Dramas
Fox has added a pair of high-profile projects to its longform development coffers.
The network is teaming with The Social Network's Michael De Luca and Nigel Williams (Elizabeth I) to adapt Shogun and with The Hunger Games' Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson (World War Z) to bring Jeffrey Toobin's best-seller The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson to the screen.
"These are both epic stories -- one fiction, one fact -- that have captivated millions of people worldwide," said Shana Waterman, senior vp event series and multiplatform programming at Fox Broadcasting Co. "They’re riveting and emotional, with unique historic backdrops that lend themselves to the high-quality, dramatic event series we’re looking to make. … We’re ecstatic to have feature talent like Michael De Luca, Nigel Williams, Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson working to bring these stories to life at Fox.”
Both projects hail from FX Productions, which recently hired former HBO exec Gina Balian to oversee the newly launched division as it supplies content to FX, the Fox Movie Channel and broadcast cousin Fox. Fox topper Kevin Reilly at the time said the network was hungry for longform content -- which FX has found success with in American Horror Story -- that will start as 10- to 12-part events that can either stand alone or evolve into franchises.
Shogun is based on the 1975 best-seller by James Clavell and explores 17th century Japan. The story is told from the perspective of British hero John Blackthorne, a sailor who rises from outsider to samurai while being used as a pawn in Japanese leader Toranaga's struggle to reach the top of the ruling chain -- or Shogun. NBC adapted the book as an Emmy-winning 1980 miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain.
For its part, the Simpson project recounts the "Trial of the Century," starting with the former football star fleeing police in his white Bronco through his murder trial for the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman and the news cycle that followed. Golden Globe winners Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (The People vs. Larry Flint) will pen the project.
Fox is expected to order its first event series later this season, with plans to add it to the schedule in 2014. The Shogun and Simpson vehicles join previously announced Blood Brothers, from Bruce C. McKenna (Band of Brothers) and Twin Peaks-esque Wayward Pines, from M. Night Shyamalan, Chad Hodge, Donald DeLine and Ashwin Rajan. Wayward, like Shogun and People v O.J. Simpson, is also based on a book -- Blake Crouch's Pines.
"Since we announced our first two projects, Wayward Pines and Blood Brothers, we’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response from the creative community," Waterman said.