Writer Bret Easton Ellis and director Rob Zombie have teamed with Alcon Television to develop a project for Fox that will revisit the people and events connected to the Manson Family murder spree in August 1969.
The project is envisioned as a limited series, but it is in the very early stages of development with Fox. Ellis is set to write the script and some additional materials. Zombie is on board to direct.
Zombie has long been fascinated by the Manson Family slayings, which left seven people dead in the Los Angeles area. Among the victims were actress Sharon Tate, who was eight and a half months pregnant at the time with the child of director Roman Polanski, and prominent Hollywood hairstylist Jay Sebring.
The killings were so gruesome, and the stories of Charles Manson’s level of control of his drug-addled young followers so disturbing, that Manson was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy charges even though he was never found to have committed a homicide himself.
Manson’s clutch of cult followers have been suspected of many other murders during that era. But it was sheer brutality and psychopathic theatricality of the killings (complete with messages written in blood at the crime scenes) unleashed on Aug. 8-9, 1969, that jolted the nation’s psyche.
The Ellis-Zombie collaboration aims to tell converging stories of people and events leading up to and after the murders, from shifting points of view. The project is envisioned as a multipart series, but it is one of many limited series projects in the works and is far away from receiving a greenlight.
The idea for the project began with Zombie and Adam Kolbrenner and Robyn Meisinger of Madhouse Entertainment. They developed the concept and brought it to Ellis and Alcon. To date, no source material has been optioned for the project, which plans to take an original approach to dramatizing stories drawn from the historical record.
Ellis, Zombie and the Madhouse principals will exec produce with Alcon’s Sharon Hall, Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson. Ben Roberts and Ryan Cunningham serve as co-producers.
“I have been obsessed with this insane story since I was a kid, so obviously I jumped at the chance to be involved in this incredible project. After speaking with Bret, I immediately realized that we shared the same vision for this epic madness,” Zombie said.
Manson was sentenced to death in 1971, but the sentence changed to life in prison when California abolished the death penalty the following year. He has been denied parole 12 times.
Ellis most recently penned the micro-budgeted Lindsay Lohan starrer “The Canyons,” released last year by IFC. Zombie’s last directorial effort was the 2013 indie “The Lords of Salem.”