Amazon Studios has found its guides to Middle-earth. Jennifer Salke, head of the streaming service, announced Saturday that writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay will oversee the Lord of the Rings TV series. The duo, who wrote the script for the upcoming fourth Star Trek movie in the J.J. Abrams franchise, will build the show, based on the world created by author J.R.R. Tolkien and brought to life on screen by Peter Jackson.
The series is not expected to air until 2020 or 2021, and few details are available, other than that the story will be set prior to the events of The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume in Tolkien's epic (and the first film in Jackson's LOTR trilogy). "It’s a vast world, and so many ways to go with that property," Salke said during Amazon's session at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. "We brought in so many people with abundant enthusiasm for the property. They will move us into the the next stage as they build out this world.”
In other news from Salke's session, Amazon Studios has ordered two more genre-related series. First, writer/actress Lena Waithe (Master of None) is executive-producing a new horror anthology series called THEM: Covenant, produced by Sony TV. The series description is: "Set in 1953, Alfred and Lucky Emory decide to move their family from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood. The family’s home on a tree lined, seemingly idyllic street becomes ground zero where malevolent forces both real and supernatural threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them."
Also announced was a series pick-up for the comedy pilot Upload, from Greg Daniels (who adapted The Office for NBC and co-created Parks and Recreation). The half-hour series will revolve around the ability of humans to upload themselves to a selected afterlife. Upload, which Salke described as a sci-fi romcom, will star Robbie Amell (whose credits include The Flash and The X-Files) and singer-songwriter Andy Allo.
And while virtually no details were released, Amazon also revealed that Avengers: Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo are developing "a radical global storytelling disruption" that will be "a large-scope, multi-layered international event series." According to an extremely cryptic statement, the company said that an "origin mothership series will function as a fire-starter to ignite the creation of multiple original local language and local production series. All of the local series are meant to enhance the entire entertainment experience and will be available for the viewer to deep dive into an imagined layered world."
As for already-in-production series, Salke said she’s seen some of the edits for Good Omens, an adaptation of the comedic novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman about the coming of the antichrist. Salke admitted she was “blown away by the chemistry between [series stars] Michael Sheen and David Tennant.” An early preview of the show was shown at San Diego Comic-Con last week.