MIPTV: 'Layer Cake' Writer J.J. Connolly to Adapt Wilbur Smith's 'Birds of Prey' Novels for TV

5:50 AM PST 03/24/2014 by Scott Roxborough
Courtesy of FremantleMedia International
JJ Connolly

Corona Pictures and FremantleMedia International have teamed up to produce the series, set in Africa during the 17th century.

Author and screenwriter J.J. Connolly (Layer Cake) has signed on to adapt Wilbur Smith's best-selling Birds of Prey adventure novels as a TV series for Corona Pictures and FremantleMedia International.

The novels -- Birds of Prey, Monsoon and Blue Horizon -- are swashbuckling tales set in uncharted Africa in the 17th century. The series traces three generations of the Courtney family as they battle to secure their fortune in Africa, battling colonial empires, privateers, settled African nations and the African wilderness itself.

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Smith's adventure novels have previously been made into TV miniseries, including The Diamond Hunters (2001) and The Seventh Scroll (1999) as well as feature films, among them Gold (1974) and Shout at the Devil (1976).

Corona Pictures founders Richard Johns and Rupert Jermyn, who acquired the rights to the Birds of Prey novels last year, will co-develop the series together with FremantleMedia International and distribute it internationally, pitching the show to buyers at MIPTV in Cannes next month.

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"I'm really excited to help bring Birds of Prey to TV screens around the world," said Connolly in a statement. "Wilbur Smith's stories are big and expansive -- his themes are universal and timeless. The thrilling challenge is to bring alive the passion and vision that Wilbur generated in his original novels and deliver that power both to Wilbur's legion of existing fans and to a new generation of television audience."

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