Hallmark Entertainment has made a deal with ABC on a four-hour miniseries based on “Dead Man’s Walk,” Larry McMurtry’s soon-to-be-published prequel to the “Lonesome Dove” saga.

The miniseries is being written by McMurtry and collaborator Diana Ossana and will be produced through their new production entity Saria Co., in association with Hallmark subsidiary RHI Entertainment.

The project – featuring the characters of Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call (played in the original “Dove” by Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones) as young cowboys during their days as Texas Rangers – will air during 1996, with McMurtry, Ossana, Robert Halmi Jr. and Suzanne De Passe as exec producers. Simon & Schuster will publish the novel in September.

The deal with ABC is notable because CBS aired the eight-hour “Lonesome Dove” as well as its six-hour sequel “Return to Lonesome Dove,” which wasn’t based directly on any McMurtry work. Come fall, the Eye network also will broadcast, McMurtry’s legitimate follow-up to the first novel – the five-hour “Larry McMurtry’s Streets of Laredo,” which comes from the same production auspices as “Dead Man’s Walk.”

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