J.J. Abrams to Develop Rod Serling Screenplay

Rod Serling JJ Abrams

Bad Robot to shop series based on unproduced script by 'Twilight Zone' master

J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Prods. has struck a deal with the estate of Rod Serling to develop an event series based on an unproduced screenplay by the renowned scribe and “Twilight Zone” host.

The Stops Along the Way” is described as Serling’s final completed work before his death in June 1975 at the age of 50. Bad Robot and Warner Bros. TV secured the rights to the script from Serling’s widow, Carol Serling. The property will be shopped to TV outlets as a limited series.

“I’m terribly, wonderfully excited that J.J. is interested and going to do it,” Carol Serling told Variety. “It was one of my husband’s favorite pieces. He thought it had great potential.”

Abrams has been eyeing the property for some time. It’s one of several ideas that he’s discussed during the past few years with Carol Serling.

SEE ALSO: J.J. Abrams to Develop Popular Videogames Into Features

Rod Serling originally envisioned “Stops Along the Way” as a TV miniseries when he wrote the script in the early 1970s. Carol Serling wouldn’t give up any details on the story other than to say it involves “a little bit of fantasy, a little bit of imagination” and that it “takes place over a long period of time.” The property was never developed in any formal way during Rod Serling’s lifetime with a network or studio.

Abrams has long cited “Twilight Zone,” which ran on CBS from 1959-1964 as a seminal influence in his career. Serling famously turned to sci-fi and fantasy with the anthology series in order to comment on social and political issues of the day after encountering advertiser and network interference with his other works.

Serling’s teleplays, for “Twilight Zone,” “Playhouse 90” and many other productions, remain among the most profound and incisive material ever presented on the small screen. (“Requiem for a Heavyweight,” “Patterns,” “A Town Has Turned to Dust,” “The Comedian,” to name a few.) And his unusual role as host of “Twilight Zone” and later NBC’s “Night Gallery,” made him a household name, even more than 35 years after his death.

In the Writers Guild of America’s recent member survey of the 101 best-written TV series, “Twilight Zone” ranked No. 3. Serling also wrote such landmark features as 1964’s “Seven Days in May” and 1968’s “Planet of the Apes.”

CBS owns the “Twilight Zone” franchise. Carol Serling has been protective of the material in her late husband’s canon that she controls. The Bad Robot deal only reinforces Abrams’ stature as caretaker-in-chief for iconic film and TV properties, with the Serling project added to a roster that includes shepherding “Star Trek” for Paramount and a “Star Wars” reboot for Lucasfilm and Disney.

Rod Serling’s legacy has been in the public eye in recent weeks thanks to the publication in April of a memoir by his daughter, Anne Serling, “As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling.”

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  1. merzmensch says:

    Great news! JJ will rock again. And I am btw. the huge fan of LOST finale.
    JJ will save the popculture, which is about to became a cheesy mainstream with many effects and no grips. JJ will avoid the primitivisation, I tell you.

  2. youngwolfusa says:

    If mrs. Serling is happy about it then it should be supported by all you nerds still pissed about the lost finale! Just rewatch the first episode again an it puts it in perspective , and then be happy that a project rob Serling was so proud of has a chance to been made and that we get to experience it. At least Michael bay isn’t directing it or something. He really seems to respect Serling and understand his message. Do yo thing jj!

  3. RobThom says:

    I wonder if abrams/hollywood actually have a literal list like the bride from killbill of things to violate and murder?

    Star Trek, pooped on.

    Alien, shot in the face.

    Wrath of Kahn, mutilated and bled to death.

    Star Wars, strangled in its sleep.

    Rod Serling, dug up and intimately violated.

    Whats next?

    2001 a space odyssey gone wild?

  4. vint says:

    If the show ends becoming a sort of fantasy/horror/SF “anthology” series — in the vein of “Twilight Zone” or “Amazing Stories” — I hope Abrams approaches Harlan Ellison and buys rights to the unproduced teleplay, “Nackles” (which was set to go before the cameras for the last TZ incarnation before getting censored). It’s a terrific short teleplay, based on an old Donald Westlake story — published in book form, in the paperback, SLIPPAGE — that tells the tale of an “Anti-Santa Claus” who lives in the slums.

    • Captain says:

      I hope so, too, Vint. JJ Abrams and Harlan Ellison deserve each other. Early on, Ellison showed moment of true creativity, but quickly morphed into the bitter, whiney, db he cherishes being today.

      Abrams is a talentless hack who couldn’t tell a complete story if his life depended on it. And he’s a liar. He promised in season 3 that he had an ending for Lost and that it was all mapped out to end in season 5. He is the latest emperor director in new clothes praised only by shallow people desperate to be seen as cool by other desperate shallow people. Hopefully, after he sends Jar Jar Binks back in time to erase all the events that would happen in the first six episodes of Star Wars, people will catch on to what a waste of flesh he is and we will be done with him. That he has been given the reins to the legacies of real creative giants like Roddenberry, Lucas, and Serling is physically sickening.

      There should be a law that declares certain literary works as national treasures (just as buildings or sculptures are) and apply penalties to any party that vandalizes them.

  5. JOE S HILL says:

    JJ Abrams,doing Rod Serling material?,,Absurd! the man is a Talented success in his own right,
    since his ABC-TV series “LOST” put in on the map-but his recent “STAR TREK” movies do not impress me,,and nobody in this business today,has any creative or original talent anymore,that they have to resort to trying to use material,created by master writers like Rod Serling?,,Insulting!! Abrams
    would be very wise in creating his own material,despite his inspirations from masters like Serling.
    so far,,nobody,including CBS,has ever hit any Gold mine with these God Awful “TWILIGHT ZONE”
    remakes-the last,which was in Fall 2002 on the now defunct UPN. so to see Abrams trying to do any Rod Serling material,is like a prolonged Toothache-very painful! and he wants to do a “STAR WARS”

  6. mattrock607 says:

    As someone who resides in Serling’s hometown of Binghamton, New York, it’ll be a proud moment to see nerd king JJ Abrams develop his last opus. I’m really looking forward to this!

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