9:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
TNT Sets 'Tales From the Crypt' Horror Block From M. Night Shyamalan
Updated, 10:15AM: Speaking to reporters at TCA, Reilly said Tales From the Crypt would be an hourlong endeavor and rather than being a straight series would instead be an "umbrella" for what he hoped would be "many shows" in a variety of different genres. Shyamalan will likely direct the first outing of the two-hour block. There are four properties currently in the works to be part of the block. He remained coy about whether or not the iconic Cryptkeeper would be involved and deferred that announcement for a later date.
Previous, 9AM: TNT is ready to get its horror on.
The Turner-owned cable network is pushing into new ground, ordering a two-hour horror block curated by Wayward Pines boss M. Night Shyamalan and led by Tales From the Crypt.
The news, announced Thursday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, where sibling network TBS also ordered alien comedy People of Earth, comes as TNT is undergoing a brand refresh under network topper Kevin Reilly.
While details about the programming block are scarce, the two hours are set to consist of short- and long-form storytelling. The Tales From the Crypt segment will be based on the original and feature new stories — all exec produced by Shyamalan and his Binding Edge Pictures partner Ashwin Rajan. The night is expected to include such elements as Tales stories and a serialized one-hour anthology that could potentially be several episodes at the end of a season, as well as other yet-to-be determined content.
Set to launch in the fall, TNT is expected to announce additional series to be featured in the horror block in the coming months.
"This is a new genre for us in our series efforts and a great chance to partner with M. Night Shyamalan, whose blockbuster hit The Visit reminded movie audiences and critics this past summer that he truly is a master of horror," said Sarah Aubrey, TNT executive vp original programming. "This two-hour horror block demonstrates not only TNT's commitment to working with today's top talents, but also our strategy to stand out in today's marketplace by challenging the conventional rules of programming and scheduling."
Added Shyamalan: "I couldn’t be more excited to be teaming up with Kevin Reilly, Sarah Aubrey and the entire TNT team in this unique endeavor. To be part of such a beloved brand like Tales From the Crypt, something I grew up watching, and to also have the chance to push the boundaries of genre television as a whole, is an inspiring opportunity that I can’t wait to dive into."
The TNT entry marks the latest incarnation of horror anthology Tales. The series originated as a 1950s EC Comics series created by William Gaines. In addition to Shyamalan and Rajan, James D. Stern (Looper, Freeheld) will executive produce via his Endgame Entertainment. Aloris Entertainment’s John Santilli (The English Teacher) and Dan McKinnon (Missing William) also will exec produce. The original comics spawned multiple seasons of the cult classic for HBO and became a worldwide brand.
The Tales revival comes as anthologies continue to be in high demand across broadcast and cable networks as both a way to lure talent and eyeballs in an increasingly competitive scripted landscape. Tales, unlike American Horror Story, American Crime and American Crime Story, will be more along the lines of Netflix's upcoming Black Mirror, with each individual episode being a stand-alone story and reset. The CW attempted the latter format with a revival of Tales From the Darkside last pilot season, but that did not move forward. This year, NBC is looking to Bryan Fuller to revive individual episodic anthology Amazing Stories.
For TNT, the news comes as the drama-focused cable network looks to reinvent itself and make noise with edgier fare beyond staples like Rizzoli & Isles, The Last Ship and Major Crimes. Under Reilly, the cabler has added Chad Hodge's Good Behavior, starring Michele Dockery, mini Alienist and film-to-TV adaptation Animal Kingdom.
Check out the opening credits from HBO's Tales From the Crypt below.