5:15am PT by Lesley Goldberg
TNT Picks Up Young Shakespeare Series, Orders Modern Civil War Drama Pilot
TNT is ready to get its Bard on.
The Turner-owned cable network has picked up William Shakespeare drama Will to series and ordered a pilot for modern Civil War drama Civil, the cabler announced Wednesday ahead of its upfront presentation to Madison Avenue ad buyers.
The 10-episode project, whose order comes a year after TNT commissioned the pilot, tells the wild story of a young Shakespeare. Newcomer Laurie Davidson stars as the poet in the period drama that opens with a young Will arriving onto the punk-rock theater scene in 16th century London. TNT is billing the series as a contemporary version of Shakespeare's life that is played to a modern soundtrack. It will premiere in 2017.
Olivia DeJonge (The Visit, Hiding), Colm Meaney (Hell on Wheels), Mattias Inwood (The Shanara Chronicles), Jamie Campbell Bower (Twilight) and Ewen Bremner (Snowpiercer) co-star in the drama from showrunner Craig Pearce (Romeo + Juliet) and Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth), with the latter directing the pilot. (Watch the trailer, below.)
"Will has an energy and style that is unlike anything else on television today," said Sarah Aubrey, executive vp original programming for TNT. "Shakespeare was a 16th century rock star, and Will perfectly captures in contemporary terms what that must have felt like for the young writer and his fans. We are delighted to be working with such an extraordinary team of executive producers and cast in putting a fresh, bold spin on the story of Shakespeare."
This marks the second Shakespeare-themed project ordered to series in the past week. ABC also picked up Shondaland's Still Star-Crossed, a period drama that picks up after the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. That will debut midseason.
For TNT, Will comes as the cable network continues to differentiate itself under new topper Kevin Reilly. It joins a roster of dramas that includes fellow newbies Animal Kingdom, Good Behavior, The Alienist and the Tales From the Crypt horror block as well as staples The Last Ship, The Librarians, Major Crimes, Murder in the First and the final season of Rizzoli & Isles. Will, originally ordered straight to series at Pivot in 2013, becomes TNT's latest redeveloped project following Animal Kingdom (originally developed for Showtime).
Civil, meanwhile, takes place in the wake of a hotly contested presidential election as America finds itself plunging uncontrollably into a modern-day Civil War. The series weaves together the personal stories of citizens from all walks of life, whose actions — amplified in an age of instant media — add fuel to the conflict and affect the fate of the entire country.
The drama is written by Oscar nominee Scott Smith (A Simple Plan) and directed by Emmy nominee Allen Coulter (Damages, Nurse Jackie). TNT Originals will produce Civil in association with MGM Television. Whalerock Industries' Lloyd Braun will executive produce and Andrew Mittman is on board as a co-executive producer. Thomas Kelly will serve as showrunner, with Smith also set as an exec producer. Civil becomes TNT's second pilot order in the works this season. It joins Rashida Jones and Will McCormack dramedy Claws, with the cabler also announcing that Scream Queens and Getting On favorite Niecy Nash would star in the pilot set at a nail salon.
For MGM TV, Civil becomes the company's latest scripted entry. It joins FX's Fargo, History's Vikings, MTV's Teen Wolf and Hulu's Handmaid's Tale.