Martin Scorsese and author Dean Koontz are teaming up with helmer Marcus Nispel and producer Tony Krantz to resurrect Dr. Frankenstein and his monster as a weekly series for USA Network.
Cabler has greenlit production on an update of the Mary Shelley classic with a contemporary twist, ordering a two-hour pilot and four scripts of the project. USA won’t formally greenlight production on the four episodes until after filming of the pilot starts, though all involved are proceeding as if “Frankenstein” will launch as an event series, most likely this fall.
Scorsese, Koontz and Krantz (“24,” “Felicity”) will exec produce “Frankenstein,” to be helmed by Nispel, who directed the recent remake of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” While Krantz’s Flame Television is based at Warner Bros. TV, studio won’t be producing this project. Conversations with several other potential studios are already under way.
In a rare move, Koontz actually wrote the pilot on spec before pitching it to nets. He and Krantz both wanted to maintain as much independence during the development process as possible.
Scorsese, who’s been looking to get more involved in TV, then came on board. “Frankenstein” is expected to be the producer/helmer’s first on-air foray into scripted series television; he produced a nonfiction PBS miniseries on the blues last fall.
Casting will start next week for a mid-April production start date.
“It’s amazing to have this creative team in the same room, let alone working for us on a project of this scope,” said USA exec VP of programming Jeff Wachtel. “I have always loved the idea of rethinking classic stories as contemporary ‘urban myths’ and we are thrilled that Frankenstein will come to life in the hands of these gifted artists.”
The series picks up in present-day Seattle, where doctor Victor Frankenstein and his creature reside, having survived the past two centuries through the doctor’s genetic tinkering. Their story is augmented with that of a female cop and her partner who, through a seemingly standard homicide investigation, unravel the myth of Frankenstein.
Skein will have close-ended elements thanks to the cop franchise, which envisions the original Frankenstein monster teaming up with the cops to battle both Dr. Frankenstein and his small army of genetic freaks. Krantz said Victor Frankenstein will be “as interesting a villain as there is on television.”
Koontz will pen the series, which reps the first project he’s producing that isn’t based on one of his novels. He says the project is not an adaptation so much as it is an extension of the story into the present day.
“We’re reimagining the consequences of the tale 200 years later, taking the essence of the story — the eternal battle of good and evil and the arrogance of man — and bringing it into today’s landscape,” Koontz said. “In this version, both of them have changed as society has dictated — the doctor is less human and the creature is more human. But like the original, it still touches on the human questions we all have as far as who we are and where we are going.”
Krantz said the new “Frankenstein” represents “a dream project.”
“Dean has written a new vision — a brilliant script which has caught the attention of filmmakers like Marty and Marcus,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine a more compelling group of filmmakers joining forces to bring this to life. The opportunity to work with my good friend Jeff Wachtel and everyone at USA is an added bonus.”
Koontz, whose thrillers have sold more than 300 million copies, exec produced and penned the Dimension Films feature “Phantoms” and has exec produced several network telepics based on his novels “Black River,” “Sole Survivor,” “Mr. Murder” and “Intensity.”
Nispel is directing the upcoming feature “Need,” toplining Diane Lane.
Endeavor packaged the project and reps Koontz, Scorsese and Nispel.