Dr. Christopher Duntsch, aka “Dr. Death,” is getting the TV treatment.
Universal Content Productions — the studio behind Amazon’s Homecoming and Dirty John — is adapting Wondery’s podcast Dr. Death for the small screen and has tapped Jamie Dornan, Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater to star in the series. A network is not yet attached; UCP is taking the project out to the marketplace, where it is expected to garner multiple offers.
The series is based on the true story of Duntsch, a young neurosurgeon who was labeled with the nickname of Dr. Death for the malpractice that resulted in the death and maiming of multiple patients in Dallas. He was accused of maiming four patients and killing two more, and was found guilty of maiming one and sentenced to life in prison in 2017. The project will explore the twisted mind of a sociopath and the negligence of the system designed to protect the defenseless.
Dornan (the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise) will play Dr. Death. Baldwin (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock) will portray Robert Henderson, the quiet and methodical neurosurgeon who believes in the system. Slater, who continues his relationship with the studio behind Mr. Robot, will play Randall Kirby, the vascular surgeon who is brash and impulsive and ready to burn the system to the ground in the name of justice.
Dr. Death is being executive produced by Patrick Macmanus, who has an overall deal with UCP and is fresh off of doing the studio’s Happy! for Syfy. Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch exec produce for Escape Artists, which earlier this week inked a first-look deal with MGM. Dr. Death rests outside that pact. Wondery’s Hernan Lopez and Marshall Lewy also exec produce.
The Dr. Death podcast has been listened to 50 million times since its debut in April 2018.
Dornan, Slater, Wondery and Escape Artists are all repped by UTA. Baldwin is with CAA.