The series marks Liberty Global’s move into original drama in partnership with Lionsgate. The supernatural spy thriller will be executive produced by Meyer and Stephen Garrett (“The Night Manager”).
Playwrights and screenwriters Sam Holcroft (“Rules for Living”) and Al Muriel (“Precious & Rich”) have adapted the 2012 novel by Daniel O’Malley for TV. Garrett will serve as showrunner under his Character 7 banner. The project was previously set up at Hulu.
Liberty Global, the international cable arm of John Malone’s empire, has been looking to expand its original production activity. It owns a small stake in Lionsgate and its CEO, Mike Fries, sits on the studio’s board of directors. Malone was also the major shareholder in Starz, which Lionsgate acquired last year.
Based on the novel by Daniel O’Malley, “Rook” will follow a young woman who wakes up in a London park suffering amnesia and surrounded by bodies, all wearing latex gloves. As she attempts to uncover her past and her role as head of Britain’s supernatural secret service, she discovers she has peculiar abilities, all while being pursued by paranormal adversaries.
Starz boss Chris Albrecht announced the series Friday at its presentation at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills.
“We are thrilled to add the talents of Stephen Garrett and Stephenie Meyer to our creative family and forge our partnership with the Lionsgate Television Group and Liberty Global,” he said. “‘The Rook’ is instantly addictive from the very first scene and introduces what we believe will be one of the most fascinating and thrilling female protagonists on television.”
Liberty Global signaled its intention to move into original drama with four projects coming through All3Media, the U.K. production group it half-owns. “The Rook” is the first and will launch internationally at the same time as in the U.S.
Liberty Global chief programming officer Bruce Mann said “The Rook” was an important step in its scripted strategy.
“We want shows that are distinctive and have a European sensibility,” he told Variety. “It’s a shiny drama from a U.S. studio with a universal story, based in the U.K. with a strong female lead. We think it will travel really well.”
Liberty Global will carry the show in the countries where it has cable platforms. Lionsgate will distribute the show in the rest of the world. Liberty Global is the largest international cable group, with services including Virgin Media in the U.K., Unitymedia in Germany, and UPC in the Netherlands. These will carry “The Rook” as an on-demand offering.
” ‘The Rook’ is a major premium property driven by an amazing creative team, and it’s not only a terrific addition to the Starz platform but the perfect series to launch a content alliance with our friends at Liberty Global,” said Lionsgate Television Group chairman Kevin Beggs and Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s president of Worldwide Television & Digital Distribution.
(Pictured: Stephenie Meyer)