AMC is forging ahead with original series, signing up “Apocalypse Now” writer John Milius for a limited series about Vietnam and giving the greenlight to the Vince Gilligan meth series “Breaking Bad.”
The Rainbow Media net has signed on Milius to pen “Saigon Bureau,” which will center on photojournalists during the Vietnam War.
Chris Noth (“Law & Order,” “Sex and the City”) will exec produce the series and likely take a role.
AMC declined to comment on “Saigon.”
Net has also greenlit “Bad,” the Sony Pictures Television show in which Bryan Cranston plays a high school chemistry teacher who becomes a meth dealer after being diagnosed with a terminal disease.
With its focus on a sympathetic drug peddler, the script from “The X-Files” exec producer Gilligan had been considered a hot, if controversial, property at the cable nets.
“It’s a surprising show for AMC, and it evolves our definition of what AMC can do. The main character does some things that are surprising and questionable,” acknowledged AMC exec veep of programming and production Rob Sorcher. “But it’s a classic story of one man against the system, and you’re rooting for him.”
Nine episodes will be ordered, Sorcher said, including a 58-minute pilot. Show will go into production in September in New Mexico and likely air in January.
In July AMC will debut “Mad Men,” a period series about Madison Avenue from “The Sopranos” writer and exec producer Matthew Weiner.
Sorcher said he expects to greenlight at least one more project that could be on the air next summer and could get a lead-in from the second season of “Mad Men” if that show is picked up.
Net known previously for movies has jumped into originals and minis as it expands its slate, often drawing on theatrical talent.
In addition to Milius, “Dances With Wolves” scribe Michael Blake has been signed for the Civil War mini “Against the Guns of Quantrill,” and “Spy Game” scribe Michael Frost Beckner has been attached to write and exec produce the WWII mini “Berlin Mesa.”
On the feature front, Milius will write the screenplay for a 2929 project about American Indians that Mike Newell is attached to direct.