Rainn Wilson, Greg Nicotero, Chris Hardwick Developing Scripted Dramas for AMC

The cable network has put seven scripted projects in development and is looking to Jason Blum to develop an unscripted horror anthology.
Barry King/Getty Images; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
Greg Nicotero (left), Rainn Wilson

Fresh off a series pickup for Marti Noxon's Dietland, AMC is replenishing its development pipeline with seven scripted projects from the likes of Rainn Wilson, The Walking Dead's Greg Nicotero and Fear the Walking Dead star Colman Domingo and Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick. Also included in the slate is an unscripted horror anthology from Jason Blum.

"We are at our best when we bet on and support exceptional talent and this diverse development slate, from exceptional creators with distinct points of view, includes multiple projects from long-standing and successful AMC partners," Charlie Collier, president of AMC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios said Saturday at the Television Critics Association's press tour. “Our deep pipeline of projects embodies our ‘eclectic by design,’ quality programming approach and our ‘scripts-to-series’ development model that puts the emphasis on the most important part of our strategy — outstanding writing, a commitment to worlds you’ve never seen on TV before, and rich character development.”

Rather than utilizing the traditional script/pilot/series development model, AMC has found success with its script-to-series model — which in addition to Dietland has also produced forthcoming dramas The Terror and Lodge 49. The cable network recently opened writers rooms for three projects as part of the model: NOS4A2, from Jami O’Brien (Fear the Walking Dead); Pandora, from Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley (Humans); and Silent History, from Claire Carré and Charles Spano (Embers).

Here's a look at the seven new scripted projects on AMC's development slate:

Untitled Rainn Wilson Project

A one-hour series that follows an alien entity which takes over the body of a poly-addicted, middle-aged man living in the San Fernando Valley. Wilson (The Office) will star and exec produce alongside Better Call Saul's Naomi Odenkirk and Marc Provissiero via their Odenkirk Provissiero Production banner.

Shock Theatre

An anthology where each episode will be a brand-new sci-fi horror tale in the style of the B-movie classics. The Walking Dead executive producer Greg Nicotero will direct and exec produce alongside Matt Lambert (Into the Badlands) and The Jackal Group's Gail Berman and Joe Earley.

Underbelly

A deep dive into the dark side of pop culture. Using the lens of the horror genre, this anthology explores storylines related to the fan experience, celebrity, greed, alienation, obsession and vanity. The sensibility of the series is darkly funny, shocking, subversive and trippy. If pop culture is a kind of new religion, this show is the deranged heretic who interrupts the service and gets thrown out. Dan Connolly (The Son) will serve as supervising producer, while Fish Ladder's Chris Hardwick and Mike Clements will exec produce.

In the Middle of the Street

A family in fading West Philadelphia must confront old secrets in order to face the challenges of their present. Inspired by Colman Domingo's critically acclaimed play Dot, the potential series unflinchingly tackles aging parents, marriage, sexuality and politics with humor and joy. Domingo, who stars on Fear the Walking Dead, exec produces alongside Alisa Tager of Collider Entertainment.

Liking What You See

Set in a near future saturated with advertising and media images of beauty, the exception being the community of Saybrook, whose residents have all voluntarily adopted calliagnosia, a reversible, non-invasive procedure that eliminates their ability to perceive beauty. Once you have calliagnosia, no one looks prettier or uglier than anyone else; the people of Saybrook judge each other purely on their merits. But is this something the rest of the world is ready for? Based on Ted Chiang's short story of the same name, Eric Heisserer (Arrival) exec produces the drama from Chernin Entertainment. Chiang will consult.

The Age of Miracles

Julia’s world is shifted, literally, when a shocking fact is made public: Earth’s rotation is suddenly, dramatically and inexplicably slowing down. As the days and nights grow longer, gravity is affected, and people start falling sick to a mysterious new illness. Julia is also forced to cope with the normal disasters of everyday life as her parents’ marriage falls apart and she struggles with lost friends and first love. Sinead Daly (The Get Down) will exec produce the 21 Laps drama, with Karen Thompson Walker on board as a consultant. 

Ballad of Black Tom

Tommy Tester is a street musician and hustler in Jazz Age New York who works odd jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over his father’s head. But when he delivers an occult object to a reclusive sorceress, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic and becomes caught up in a Lovecraftian conspiracy to conjure the destruction of the world. The drama is based on the novella The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, who will co-exec produce.

On the unscripted side, the cabler is developing Wicked West from Blumhouse Television's Jason Blum, Jeremy Gold and Marci Wiseman. The project is a horror anthology that uncovers the most frightening and disturbing tales from the Wild West. And they’re all true. Wicked West utilizes Blumhouse’s cinematic style on a potential weekly series, telling stories of sadistic serial killers, murderous black widows, bloodthirsty family clans and local legends laced with the supernatural. AMC has also set a year-round documentary series called Visionaries, with two installments set for 2018 featuring Eli Roth exploring the history of horror and Alex Gibney, joined by Questlove and Black Thought from The Roots, probing the world of hip-hop. Those join The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman's forthcoming Secret History of Comics and James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction. Other projects in the works under the Visionaries banner include History of Video Games, Outlaws of the Internet and History of Martial Arts.

Speaking with reporters Saturday at TCA, Kirkman also said Visionaries will also feature episodes about the creation of Wonder Woman and exploring the lack of black characters in comic books.

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