July 23, 2014 10:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Warren Ellis Teaming With 'Walking Dead' Producer for TV Series
Universal Cable Productions is expanding its genre portfolio, inking three new deals to bring comic properties to the small screen.
First, UCP has signed comic writer Warren Ellis, author of New York Times best-seller Gun Machine, to team with The Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd and her studio-based Valhalla Entertainment banner to develop his first TV series. The untitled Ellis marks his first foray into television. "I've been strongly drawn to television over the last few years, and working with brilliant and determined collaborators like Gale and the UCP team, I'm delighted at the opportunity to add my voice to the new, novelistic TV form that's evolved so dramatically," Ellis said. Added Hurd: "There are very few writers who have been able to so completely influence a medium as Warren has with comic books. I am very excited to be able to collaborate in bringing his unique vision to television for the first time."
Second, UCP and IDW Entertainment have optioned horror comic Night Mary with plans to co-develop it as a live-action TV series. Based on Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer's comic, the story follows a young woman trained to be a lucid dreamer. Her father owns a sleep disorder clinic where she enters the dreams of his patients. When a patient is revealed to be a serial killer, she is placed in jeopardy as nightmares and reality become frighteningly intertwined. John Pogue (The Quiet Ones) will write and direct the pilot. IDW's Ted Adams and David Ozer and Circle of Confusion's David Alpert (The Walking Dead) and Rick Jacobs will exec produce alongside Pogue.
Third, pulpy adventure Five Ghosts, by Frank Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham, tells the story of a 1930s-era treasure hunter possessed by five literary ghosts (Merlin, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, Musashi and Dracula) whose abilities he can draw on during his adventures. Five Ghosts was funded on Kickstarter in 2012 and previewed at San Diego Comic-Con when Black Mask's Matt Pizzolo shared a table with then-unknown writer Barbiere. Image Comics picked up the title and premiered it at Emerald City Comic-Con. UCP has optioned the TV series rights from Black Mask and has signed Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsmen, Divergent) to write the pilot and exec produce. Chris Bender and Jake Weiner from Benderspink (The Hangover) will also exec produce along with Jake Wagner, who will produce, as well as Pizzolo and Brett Gurewitz, who will serve as co-EPs.
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"We love genre at UCP and thankfully so do audiences. We've made it a priority to seek out great properties that will attract equally great creators to adapt them," said Dawn Olmstead, executive vp development at UCP. "From Warren’s dynamic plots and complex characters to the dark and suspenseful world of Night Mary, and the creative mashup of five literary icons in the cult hit Five Ghosts, they are all provocative, distinctive and have the promise to be a whole lot of fun."
The three projects join a roster of other genre programming at the studio, including Battlestar Galactica and Warehouse 13. The company next has Syfy's Ascension, Dominion and 12 Monkeys, among others.