'Aztec' ventures to the small screen

Grant Turck and Alfonso Arau to develop miniseries

Gary Jennings' best-seller "Aztec" might be headed to the small screen.

Producer Grant Turck has optioned the historical novel and has partnered with Mexican-born director Alfonso Arau to develop it into a miniseries.

John Milius is in talks to adapt the book, with Arau on board to direct at least two hours of the potential series.

Arau will executive produce through Arau Films International, Turck through his newly formed Grant Turck Prods.

Written after more than 10 years of research into Aztec culture and rites, "Aztec" tells the story of the native civilization of North America at its peak through the eyes of Mixtli, a son of a provincial quarrier who goes on to become a scribe, a distinguished warrior and a successful merchant. His courage and resourcefulness earn him a knighthood and, eventually, elevation to the nobility.

"'Aztec' is an adventure story, a love story and a tragedy all interwoven into one narrative," said Arau, a longtime fan of the 1980 book.

Turck noted the timing of the project.

"Next year marks the bicentennial of Mexico's independence from Spain and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution, making now a perfect time for a project based on 'Aztec,'" he said.

First published by Atheneum, the late Jennings' acclaimed novel continues to be in print by Forge Books.

Turck also is producing a feature adaptation of John Grisham's "The Partner" with producer Bob Chartoff.

On the TV side, Milius -- an Oscar nominee for his "Apocalypse Now" screenplay -- co-created and executive produced another limited drama series set in ancient times, HBO's "Rome."

Arau, director of such features as "Like Water for Chocolate" and "A Walk in the Clouds," is repped by ICM, Imprint Entertainment and Jackie Eckhouse.

Milius also is with ICM.

Jennings' estate is repped by McIntosh & Otis.