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FX closes in on Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Strain’

Carlton Cuse to help shepherd TV adaptation of helmer's novel trilogy

FX is sinking its teeth into Guillermo del Toro’s vampires.

The cabler is closing in on a hefty deal to adapt del Toro’s vampire novel trilogy “The Strain,” with “Lost” alum Carlton Cuse onboard as showrunner.

FX is in final negotiations to order a pilot with the understanding that the project would likely be fast-tracked to a series order. Del Toro will co-write the pilot with Chuck Hogan, his co-author on the HarperCollins books, and he will direct. The plan is to begin lensing in Toronto in the fall of next year.

Project marks a leap of faith for FX, which has never before ordered a pilot on the strength of a pitch. Cinemax and Starz were also aggressive contenders for the project.

Del Toro envisions “Strain” as an event series that would have a clearly defined end date. The project is favorite of del Toro’s; he spent years developing his own unique spin on vampire mythology for the books. The first book in the series bowed in 2009. “Strain” has also spawned a popular Dark Horse comicbook series.

“These are very scary vampires,” Cuse told Variety. “These are not romantic vampires. They will give you nightmares.”

Proving irresistible to Cuse were the distinctiveness of del Toro’s take on the undead and the fact that the three voluminous books lay out a clear cinematic road map for the story. “It’s a chance to tell a gripping, suspenseful story with characters that go on a wonderful emotional journey through the course of the story,” Cuse said. “It has all the elements you look for in an epic tale. It feels like the chance to do something that really adds something new to the genre.”

Del Toro, Cuse, Hogan and del Toro’s manager Gary Ungar will serve as exec producers on the TV adaptation.

“Strain” deal is coming together as del Toro is shepherding two other TV projects for HBO in addition to a slew of feature projects. Cuse is about to begin production on a 10-episode order from A&E for the drama series “Bates Motel.”

WME reps del Toro and Cuse. Hogan is with UTA.

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