King novel 'Talisman' slate for '08

Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks TV are reteaming with TNT to exec produce a six-hour adaptation of Stephen King-Peter Straub adventure novel “The Talisman.”

Tentpole event has been greenlit for a summer 2008 debut.

Story follows a man’s perilous journey to find a mysterious talisman that holds the key to saving his mother’s life. His travels take him into a parallel universe in which he is forced to battle demonic forces.

Move breathes new life into the long-gestating project, which Spielberg has been trying to produce for a number of years. “Talisman” had been set up as a DreamWorks feature with Ed Zwick last attached to direct, but that effort was scrapped over budget and creative concerns. Prior to that, the project had been developed as a four-hour miniseries for ABC.

Kathleen Kennedy and Ehren Kruger (“The Ring”) will exec produce with Spielberg. Kruger will also write the adaptation. DreamWorks TV principals Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey will co-exec produce.

“Talisman” reps the second collaboration for Spielberg, DreamWorks and TNT. Parties last partnered on the $100 million, 12-hour oater “Into the West,” which drew a strong 4.52 million total viewers to each installment in summer 2005.

TNT execs began discussing future collaborations with Spielberg just as “Into the West” was wrapping, and TNT/TBS senior veep of programming Michael Wright said “Talisman” emerged quickly as one of the director’s passion projects.

“There is no one better to do this than Steven. If you look at the canon of his films, from ‘Empire of the Sun’ to ‘A.I.,’ he’s mastered the story of young boys on a quest,” Wright said.

“Talisman” marks TNT’s third adaptation of a King work. Cabler most recently produced the summer anthology “Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King” and, before that, the TV movie “Salem’s Lot.”

The action-adventure genre is already proving a potent ratings force for the cabler: Sunday’s premiere of “The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines” drew a big 6.2 million total viewers and 2.9 million in the key 18-49 demo.

The Dean Devlin-produced sequel starring Noah Wyle was basic cable’s No. 1 nonsports program in the adults 18-49 category last week. Pic was down a smidge from last year’s original, which drew 7 million viewers.

Spielberg has embraced the multihour TV event in recent years, producing the Emmy-winning projects “Taken” for Sci Fi Channel and “Band of Brothers” for HBO. He is developing the paybox’s WWII drama “The Pacific” and producing the supernatural saga “Nine Lives” for Sci Fi.

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