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J.J. Connolly to Adapt Wilbur Smith’s ‘Birds of Prey’ for Corona, FremantleMedia

LONDON — Corona Pictures and FremantleMedia Intl. have confirmed that author and screenwriter J.J. Connolly is lined up to write the TV adaption of the first three novels of Wilbur Smith’s Courtney series. The adaptation, “Birds of Prey,” will mark the first time that a Wilbur Smith novel has been made for TV.

Connolly, best known for authoring British crime thriller “Layer Cake,” and penning the screenplay that brought it to the big screen, has already begun working on the project. His appointment has been endorsed by Smith after the two met earlier in the year to discuss Connolly’s plans for the adaptation.

The story, which is set in Africa in the 17th century, chronicles three generations of the Courtney family as they battle to secure the clan’s fortunes in a land where sea-faring empires, privateers and African tribes fight for control of the land and its treasures.

The series will be produced by Richard Johns and Rupert Jermyn, who founded Corona Pictures in 2009. FremantleMedia Intl. will co-develop the series and distribute it internationally.

FremantleMedia will present the project to broadcasters during MipTV, which takes place in Cannes from April 7 to 10.

Connolly commented: “Wilbur Smith’s stories are big and expansive — his themes are universal and timeless. The thrilling challenge is to bring alive the passion and vision that Wilbur generated in his original novels, and deliver that power both to Wilbur’s legion of existing fans and to a new generation television audience.”

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