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ABC is going forward with its drama based on the popular Western-themed Disney attraction Big Thunder Mountain, ordering the period entry, as well as a gothic soap from Mark Gordon, to pilot. In addition, the network on Tuesday handed out orders to a family dramedy produced by Ryan Reynolds as well as a high-stakes political drama from Chris Black (Mad Men) and Casino Royale‘s Martin Campbell.
The dramatic take on the Disney ride, fittingly titled Big Thunder, will be written by Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift), with Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious) attached to executive produce. The drama revolves around a brilliant, late-19th-century New York doctor and his family, who are given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to relocate to a frontier mining town run by a powerful but mysterious tycoon. They quickly realize that not everything in Big Thunder is as it seems.
Feature writer Morgan, whose credits also include the 2009 sequel Fast Five, penned the upcoming Keanu Reeves samurai epic 47 Ronin via his deal with Universal Pictures. He’s also developing The Legend of Conan, with Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his role as Conan the Barbarian. For his part, actor-turned-writer Fuchs’ small-screen work includes minor roles in ABC’s Pan Am and CBS’ The Good Wife, among others. Morgan is repped by ICM Partners and McKuin Frankel; Fuchs is repped by WME, Brookside and Bloom Hergott.
Big Thunder Mountain — which is featured at Disney parks in California, Florida, Tokyo and Paris — centers on a mining town amid the gold rush in the American Southwest that was a sacred spot to local Native Americans. Disaster ultimately strikes in the form of an earthquake (California, Paris), tsunami (Tokyo) and flash flood (Florida).
Thunder Mountain is not the first Disney ride to receive the Hollywood treatment. The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction has spawned four blockbuster features starring Johnny Depp, while The Haunted Mansion, The Matterhorn, The Country Bears, Mission to Mars, Jungle Cruise and, lately, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride have been or are in development for the big screen.
The ultimate theme park movie might be Disney’s Magic Kingdom, which is set entirely in the park. That project is being developed by writer Michael Chabon and director Jon Favreau.
Meanwhile, Gothica is being billed as a sexy gothic soap set in the present day that weaves together a mythology that incorporates the legends of Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, Frankenstein and Dorian Gray, among others.
Matt Lopez (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) is attached to pen the pilot, which is set up at the Mark Gordon Co. in association with ABC Studios. This marks Gordon’s first pilot order of the development season; if ordered to series, Gothica would join his other ABC Studios efforts, including Grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds. Lopez and Gordon are both repped by ICM Partners.
For its part, Murder in Manhattan centers on a mother and daughter who team as amateur sleuths. Highlighting the complex dynamic and humor of a mother/daughter relationship, they balance their day jobs and regular lives with solving crimes on the side. Maria Maggenti (90210) is onboard to pen the dramedy, which is set up at Reynolds’ DarkFire TV and ABC Studios. Reynolds will serve as an executive producer on the project.
Finally, ABC is adding Reckless, which centers on a problem-solver, David, who desperately pursues every legal option to secure his wife’s release when she is unjustly imprisoned during a political uprising overseas. But when he’s stymied by the U.S. government in the name of diplomacy, David is forced to consider less-than-legal options — entering a world of political intrigue, dangerous alliances and high emotional stakes. Red Widow’s Black will write the ABC Studios pilot, with Campbell attached to executive produce.
Tuesday’s orders bring ABC’s drama count to 11 this season, one shy of last year. They join Joss Whedon‘s S.H.E.I.L.D., David Shore‘s Doubt and the Sofia Vergara-produced Killer Women in contention. The net currently has seven comedies in play.
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