Development: Terry Pratchett's Discworld comes to BBC America; Laurence Fishburne in British UFO drama; Netflix and CBS go animated

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Dec 4, 2018, 5:15 PM EST (Updated)

BBC America has picked up a series based on the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, Laurence Fishburne will produce and star in a UFO drama show, and two TV studios are expanding their animation offerings in this edition of SYFY WIRE’s development roundup.

First up, BBC America has announced that it has ordered eight episodes of The Watch, a series based on the Good Omens co-author’s Discworld series of books. It was revealed earlier this year that BBC Studios had greenlit development on the series with TV writer Simon Allen hired to adapt Pratchett’s series of satirical fantasy novels. 

BBC America is describing the series as a “punk rock thriller” inspired by the City Watch subset of Discworld novels. The series centers on a group of misfit cops fighting to save a city of normalized wrongness from both the past and future. The Watch features such Discworld elements as City Watch Captain Sam Vimes, Lady Sybil Ramkin, Angua, non-binary forensics expert Cheery and Terry Pratchett’s iconic characterization of Death.

BBC Studios is co-producing the series with Narrativia, the production company Pratchett founded in 2012 and is now run by Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna and his former business manager Rob Wilkins. BBC Studios’ Head of Drama London Hilary Salmon, Ben Donald, Wilkins and Phil Collinson are executive producing. 

The Watch has been startlingly reimagined for television by writer Simon Allen, while still cleaving to the humor, heart and ingenuity of Terry Pratchett’s incomparably original work,” said Barnett in a statement issued by BBC America. “We believe The Watch will astonish audiences.”

In the same statement, Wilkins praised Pratchett for making “the decision to allow brand new Watch stories to be told with his existing characters.”


Next, Laurence Fishburne has signed on to star in and executive produce the upcoming paranormal series Rendlesham, per Variety.  

Eleventh Hour Films is making Rendlesham while Sony Pictures Television is distributing it internationally. The series is inspired by a series of incidents that took place on a U.S. air base near the British village of Rendlesham where, in 1980, there was suspected UFO activity. The incidents have been dubbed by some as “Britain’s Roswell.”

Fishburne will play Tyrone, a retired American airman stationed at the U.S. base during the Cold War. Tyrone returns to the area with his wife Carol and son Brock to visit Carol’s dying father, where he is forced to revisit events that have haunted him his whole life.

Fishburne will exec produce alongside his producing partner Helen Sugland through their Cinema Gypsy banner. Eve Gutierrez and Jill Green will executive produce for EHF alongside Joe Ahearne, who is also writing and directing.

(Via Variety)  

Finally, Netflix and CBS TV Studios are building up their own animation studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter. To cash in on the increasing popularity of animated shows for adults like Bojack Horseman, Rick and Morty and Bob’s Burgers, Netflix is launching an in-house studio. The streaming giant will work with writers including Alex Hirsch (Gravity Falls) and Shion Takeuchi (Disenchantment) to create new projects. 

Meanwhile, CBS TV Studios is launching CBS Eye Animation as it enters the space with CBS All Access' Star Trek: Lower Decks. The David Stapf-run studio will expand its offerings with the help of former 20th TV and Cartoon Network animation exec Katie Krentz. The goal will be to sell content to streaming outlets, cable and possibly even CBS. 

"You can do five animated shows for the price of one live-action drama," Krentz told THR. "The hope is one of those animated shows pops and becomes a big success with not only viewers but also merchandising." 

(Via THR)

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