Scripps buys Saul novels for ABC mini

Scripps Howard Prods. has inked a deal with ABC to produce a six-hour miniseries based on the upcoming John Saul serial horror novels “The Blackstone Chronicles.”

Saul’s series of six volumes is being published by the Ballantine Group. The miniseries will most likely hit the small screen in 1998.

“This is Scripps Howard’s most ambitious project to date and, as it is John Saul’s first serialization, it will be a major television event,” said Michele Brustin, executive producer for Scripps Howard Entertainment Programming and exec producer of the miniseries.

It will also be one of the company’s more expensive productions. According to industry sources, the option for “The Blackstone Chronicles” was over $250,000, against $1.7 million when it gets made. Networks usually pay in the neighborhood of $1.5 million per hour for telefilms and miniseries, although that average may come down slightly depending on the length of the miniseries.

Each of the individual Saul novels is set in mythical Blackstone, Mass., and deals with terrible forces unleashed. The first installment is the current bestseller “An Eye for an Eye: The Doll,” and is followed by “Twist of Fate: The Locket,” “Ashes to Ashes: The Dragon’s Flame,” “In the Shadow of Evil: The Handkerchief,” “Day of Reckoning: The Stereoscope” and the conclusion, “Asylum.” A writer for the project will selected in the coming months.

Scripps Howard Prods., headed by president/CEO David Percelay, has produced three original movies for televi-sion as well as a news special for NBC, and has six telefilms in the works for 1997, including the four-hour mini-series “Night Sins,” starring Brian Dennehy and airing on CBS during the February sweeps.

The Scripps Howard purchase was made through an auction from Joel Gotler of Renaissance.

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