HBO has greenlit “Generation Kill,” a seven-hour scripted miniseries based on the true story of Marines fighting in the Iraq war.
Gritty mini will look at the early movements of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and depict the complex challenges faced by the U.S.-led mission even in the war’s early stages.
David Simon and Ed Burns, both of “The Wire,” have been attached to co-write and exec produce, while George Faber and Charles Pattinson (“Elizabeth I,” “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers”) are aboard to exec produce for HBO Films via their Company Pictures shingle.
Project, based on the Evan Wright nonfiction tome of the same name, is HBO’s first scripted take on the war (Daily Variety, July 29, 2004). Paybox has previously focused on the war via docs, including “Baghdad ER” and the Oscar-nommed “Iraq in Fragments,” which airs in March.
Insiders said “Kill” will aim for the immediacy and the spectacle, if not the production budget, of HBO’s hit WWII project “Band of Brothers.”
But execs were quick to point out that the tone of the two projects, like the wars themselves, would be substantially different.
Project isn’t the first scripted drama a cable net has tried about the war in Iraq. FX’s “Over There,” produced by Steven Bochco, was lauded by critics when it aired in 2005, but it failed to find an audience and went off the air after 13 weeks, drawing just 1.6 million viewers by the end of its run.
Andrea Calderwood (“The Last King of Scotland”) is producing “Kill”; Nina Noble co-exec produces. No cast has been attached yet.
Mini will begin a six-month shoot this summer in Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa.
Wright was embedded with U.S. troops in the war’s first phase in 2003, writing a three-part series for Rolling Stone that went on to win a National Magazine Award.
The mag stories later grew into a book that won a number of prestigious prizes, including a PEN USA Award, the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award.
It also garnered the Gen. Wallace Greene Award, which the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation hands out itself.
Simon, who called the material “narrative journalism of the first rank,” is a well-known former journo who’s also the force behind the net’s critically acclaimed “The Wire.” Burns, his frequent writing partner, is a producer and scribe on “The Wire.”
HBO had purchased rights to the book in 2004. Wright is also credited as a co-writer and consultant on the miniseries.
Essence of the project, according to net, is how elite members of the Marine Corps confront the military bureaucracy in the midst of a war.
Simon was paired with the project because, similarly, “The Wire” focused on cops and civil servants and how they deal with the Baltimore city bureaucracy in the face of gang warfare.
Tome also focuses on how today’s military personnel differ from their WWII and Vietnam forebears. Wright wrote that Marines are “on more intimate terms with videogames, reality TV shows and Internet porn than they are with their own parents.”