6:12pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Taylor Kitsch to Play David Koresh in Weinstein Co. Limited Series 'Waco' (Exclusive)
How's this for a true-crime story: Weinstein Television is prepping a star-studded take on the 1993 Waco, Texas, siege and the Branch Davidian standoff.
Friday Night Lights grad Taylor Kitsch will star as Branch Davidian leader David Koresh in Waco, while Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire) is set as lead FBI negotiator Gary Noesner. Ludacris is being eyed to portray Branch Davidian member Wayne Martin.
The limited TV series, which is currently in development, will be based on the harrowing true story of the 1993 FBI siege of the religious sect in Waco that resulted in a deadly shootout and fire. The 51-day standoff ended with an FBI assault on the compound, which was burned down and ultimately killed 76 people inside — including Koresh.
Brothers John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle (No Escape) will pen the potential series, which does not yet have a network. John Erick Dowdle will direct the project, with both on board to exec produce alongside Shannon and Kitsch. The Weinstein Co. plans to take the series out to networks next month. The project is based on two biographies: A Place Called Waco, by Branch Davidian David Thibodeau — who was one of the nine survivors of the April 19, 1993, fire; and Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator, penned by FBI special agent in charge of negotiations Noesner.
The event series will explore the true-life events leading up to and chronicling the 51-day siege between the FBI, ATF and Koresh's sect, the Branch Davidians. It will be told from several perspectives of those who were involved — from both sides of the conflict.
The Waco project would mark Kitsch's latest TV foray following True Detective and The Normal Heart. On the big screen, his credits include Battleship and John Carter. He is repped by CAA and Untitled. Shannon, who is with CAA, Wetzel Entertainment and Morris Yorn, counts features Man of Steel and Revolutionary Road among his credits. Ludacris, repped by CAA and Fox Rothschild, counts The Fast and the Furious franchise among his body of work.
Harvey Weinstein, TWC co-head of production Jennifer Malloy and Megan Spanjian of Weinstein Television said in a statement: "We’re thrilled to be collaborating with John and Drew again. This event series will explore the truth behind this tragedy and speaks directly to the heart of the current issues between citizens, law enforcement and the media. With the addition of dedicated and talented actors like Michael and Taylor, WACO will deliver on the promise of a sophisticated and harrowing exposé that is sure to be appointment viewing TV.”
The Dowdle brothers (Quarantine) are with WME and Weintraub Tobin.
The Waco series becomes the latest true-crime project to be developed for the small screen. The genre has become all the rage on broadcast, cable and streaming outlets following the success of HBO's The Jinx, Netflix's Making a Murderer and FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. On that note, there are four JonBenet Ramsey projects in the works as well as takes on Serial, Patty Hearst, the Menendez brothers, Chandra Levy and Robert Durst, among others.