Universal Cable Productions (UCP) has unveiled its annual development slate, with this year’s projects including potential series from “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke and “Rick & Morty” co-creator Dan Harmon.
Hardwicke will executive produce an adaptation of the best-selling book series “The Raven Cycle” by author Maggie Stiefvater for Syfy. Based on the four rural fantasy novels of the same name, “The Raven Cycle” tells the story of seventeen year old Blue Sargent who becomes involved with a group of four privileged private school boys on a quest to find a source of mythical and mysterious power hidden deep in rural Virginia. Michael London of Groundswell Productions will executive produce alongside showrunner and writer Andrew Miller. Stiefvater will serve as co-executive producer. Hardwicke is also attached to direct the pilot.
UCP is also working on an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Sirens of Titan” with Harmon and Evan Katz. The story follows Malachi Constant, the richest man in 22nd-century America. He possesses extraordinary luck which he attributes to divine favor and has used to build upon his father’s fortune. He becomes the center point of a journey that takes him from Earth to Mars in preparation for an interplanetary war, to Mercury with another Martian survivor of that war, back to Earth to be pilloried as a sign of Man’s displeasure with his arrogance, and finally to Titan where he again meets the man ostensibly responsible for the turn of events that have befallen him.
“We’re passionate about genre at UCP and as our latest development slate shows, we continue to work with some of the industry’s most vibrant and imaginative talent to bring fans genre fare they can get behind,” said Jeff Wachtel, chief content officer of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and president of Universal Cable Productions. “What began with Battlestar Galactica has grown into a mainstay for UCP as the genre itself has exploded into the mainstream.”
UCP will also develop an adaptation of Hugh Howey’s post-apocalyptic novel series “Sand” for Syfy. A co-production with Imperative Entertainment, the series would be an action drama set in a world ravaged by ecological devastation, savage winds, and shifting dunes. At its center is a family who makes their way in this world as sand divers: the elite few who can travel deep beneath the desert floor to retrieve mysterious and valuable relics lost to the dust. Howey will executive produce, Gary Whitta also executive producing and adapting the novels for television. The pilot will be directed by Marc Forster, who will also executive produce along with his partner Renee Wolf. Imperative Entertainment’s Dan Friedkin, Tim Kring and Justin Levy will also serve as executive producers.
Following up to last year’s development announcement of “Welcome to Hitchcock,” Evan Spiliotopoulos is now attached to write the series, which is inspired by the work of the legendary director and brings a modern day take on the very best of Hitchcock with contemporary retellings of his classic tales. UCP will collaborate on the project with Vermilion Entertainment, the newly formed television production company by the founders of Cross Creek Pictures, as well as Academy Award-nominated producer Chris Columbus’ 1492 Pictures/Ocean Blue Entertainment. Columbus, Academy Award-nominated producer Michael Barnathan, Timmy Thompson and Todd Thompson will serve as executive producers along with the Hitchcock Trust, as part of its development deal with UCP.
Finally, the studio also announced it has optioned “Lord of Light,” based on the Hugo award-winning science fantasy novel by Roger Zelazny. After humans have moved to a new planet, technological disparities allow a privileged few to assume the names and likenesses of deities, and rule over the common people. Tired of the system, a former “god” wages war against the unjust regime. Gale Anne Hurd and Valhalla Entertainment will produce, along with Barry Ira Gellar, Rich Angell and Mark B. Newbauer of Mike and Pike Productions. Ashley Miller will executive produce and is also set to write the adaptation.