AMC captures 'Prisoner' for '08


AMC is getting into the sci-fi business with a remake of the 1960s series "The Prisoner."

The cable network is set to co-produce with the U.K.'s Granada and Sky One a new version of the sci-fi thriller, which aired from 1967-68 on CBS. The remake will feature a similar story line to the original series, which starred Patrick McGoohan, who also was creator, producer, writer and director.

"Prisoner" will follow a man who finds himself inexplicably trapped in "the Village," with no memory of how he arrived. All of the inhabitants are identified by number instead of name, have no memory of a previous existence or outside civilization and are under constant surveillance. The man, Number Six, sets out to discover the truth behind the Village, why he's there and how he can escape.

The remake will be written by Bill Gallagher (BBC's "Conviction," "Clocking Off"). Granada's Michelle Buck and Damien Timmer will produce.

Production on the hourlong series is scheduled to begin in the spring for a worldwide premiere targeted for January 2008.

"Prisoner" is the latest programming announcement by AMC, which during the past year has been ramping up its scripted slate. Its first original movie, the four-hour Western "Broken Trail," which set ratings records in June, earned three Golden Globe nominations last week. Other original programming includes the caper series "Hustle" and the period drama "Mad Men," which is debuting in June, as well as the crime drama pilot "Breaking Bad," which begins shooting at the end of February.

"('Prisoner') is part of our mission to build an original slate that provides cinematic programming to television," said Charlie Collier, who became general manager and executive vp at AMC in September. "Each of the projects we've been announcing are diverse, but they all have a common thread to celebrate and showcase specific genres."

AMC executive vp programming and production Rob Sorcher said the network's executives have been looking to do an "event sci-fi genre series" for some time.

"It needed to be something with marquee value built in," he said. "This show made an explosion in the genre 40 years ago; to this day, it's loved by so many. This is an opportunity to remake a classic and reinterpret it, and it also gives us a built-in fan base."

The number of episodes is yet to be determined, but Sorcher said it will be "a minimum of six or eight." He added that the producers are looking to bring in a "big-name" director/executive producer who will "bring his or her own vision to the material."

Sorcher said that AMC also has acquired rights to the original "Prisoner" and will air those episodes around the time of the new series' launch along with films in the same genre as the show.

Granada International will distribute "Prisoner" worldwide.