Damon D’Oliveira’s Conquering Lion, the Toronto-based prodco behind BET’s miniseries “The Book of Negroes,” has partnered with Canadian helmer-producer Bruce McDonald’s Shadow Shows to board Western action TV series project “The Lincoln County War.”
At script development stage, ”Lincoln County War”is being pitched at Cabos Discovery Meetings, a Los Cabos Intl. Film Festival’s sidebar, while “The Book of Negroes” screens as part of fest’s new TV business platform, Cabos TV.
With a $25 million initial budget, the 10-episode 60-minute TV series project is written by Patrick Whistler, who also shares exec-producer credits with Damon D’Oliveira and Bruce McDonald. It is conceived as a story of violence, greed and rivalry, which will also show some of the most indelible legends of the era such as Billy the Kid set in New Mexico’s Lincoln County during the most notorious and bloody range war of the American Wild West, the series will follow Lawrence Murphy, a retired colonel who parlayed his military connections and political influence into staggering regional monopoly. A predatory lender, owner of The House, the leading supplier of credit in the region, Murphy is backed by his right hand Jimmy Dolan.
On the other side, John Tunstall, a young Brit caught in the dream of finding his own El Dorado, teams with Alexander McSween, a Scottish-Canadian lawyer and disgruntled associate of The House, to create a general store, offering fairer credit and becoming a competitor to the House. The factions will align and prepare for an inevitable reckoning.
“At Cabos, we are exploring the possibility of production taking place in Mexico. There is a co-production treaty with Canada that could make for an attractive partnership,” D’Oliveira said.
Bruce McDonald, a heavyweight Canuck indie filmmaker, whose credits include high-concept zombie chiller “Pontypool” plus rock’n’roll comedies “Roadkill” and “Highway 61,” is attached to direct “The Lincoln County War.”
The tone of the series “will be pitched somewhere between ‘Deadwood’ and ‘The Walking Dead,’ with a focus on world-building and period authenticity, as well as action and high-stakes risk,” McDonald said.
“The focus on the extended rivalry between the Murphy/Dolan and McSween/Tunstall gangs will also evoke shows such as ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ and ‘Game of Thrones,’ which is perhaps the best model in imagining the structure of the series: a few core characters surrounded by a large supporting cast that drives the narrative forward. It will be a show of spectacular rises and shattering falls, with the hope that every move made by a character is in some way both surprising and appropriate,” he added.
According to writer Patrick Whistler, “the series will be detailed politically and personally, laying out a world that we understand more and more as the show goes on, but it will also be full of action: Shootouts, high speed chases on horseback, fistfights, executions and moments of excruciating suspense.”
“The Book of Negroes” – a sweeping eOne-distributed six-part miniseries, based on a Lawrence Hill novel about the life of Aminata Diallo, a West African woman sold into slavery during the 18th century – was directed by Conquering Lion co-founder Clement Virgo and toplined by Aunjanue Ellis, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Lou Gosset Jr.
“Both miniseries are bold, epic retelling of key historic events with potential to reach global audiences. They also feature strong female protagonists in a timeframe that was typically dominated by men,” Damon D’Oliveira said.