Pulse Films has taken the nuclear option with its latest high-end scripted project, making a series based on Vanity Fair journalist William Langewiesche’s book “The Atomic Bazaar,” on the shadowy world of nuclear trafficking. “71” writer Gregory Burke will pen the drama, and the series will be produced by Pulse with First Look Media’s Topic banner.
Langewiesche’s acclaimed nonfiction book, “The Atomic Bazaar: Dispatches from the Underground World of Nuclear Trafficking,” looks at the global trade in the materials needed to develop and make weapons of mass destruction. Langewiesche spoke to technicians, smugglers, spies and scientists involved in the illicit nuclear weapons business.
Pulse said the series will span the compounds of wealthy drug lords to secret CIA and MI6 bases, and feature the spooks, mercenaries, smugglers and other criminals involved.
Lucas Ochoa is MD of film and scripted TV at Pulse Films and leading the charge into TV drama. “I’d met Greg Burke, and I felt he had a unique voice and had a similar ambition to do a show that is truly global in scope,” he told Variety. “We felt that [‘Atomic Bazaar’] was a relevant story for the age we live in. Now more than ever there is a kind of emerging reality that the world is a fantastically complex and dangerous place, and there are global actors not limited by a border or international law.
“It’s globalization in tooth and claw,” Ochoa added. “The reality of our nuclear programs was that we developed things that can be devastating but the mass or quantity of material needed is very small. When we think about global trade and how the world works that makes our position precarious, so it felt like an interesting setup.”
In the world of nuclear TV, HBO and Sky are making “Chernobyl,” about the titular nuclear disaster.
Burke recently finished hijack drama “Entebbe” and is attached to an as-yet-untitled thriller with Yann Demange. He has started work on “Atomic Bazaar.” The BBC and AMC recently completed a similar non-fiction-book to scripted series trick, adapting Misha Glenny’s true-crime book “McMafia” as a drama, which launches at the end of the year.
Already well-known for its factual and film work, Vice Media-backed Pulse is now pushing heavily into scripted TV. It is making “Gangs of London,” for Sky and HBO’s Cinemax, with Gareth Evans (“The Raid”), and has more drama projects in the works.
CEO Thomas Benski said: “We are very excited to embark on this journey with [Burke], a partnership that affirms our commitment to find unique stories and match them to the best talent and one that lays down a marker for the type of scripted drama projects to come from our in-house team.”
The new series reunites two of the partners on “XY Chelsea,” the upcoming feature documentary about Chelsea Manning. “We’re so glad to be working with Pulse on another urgent and provocative project, and thrilled that Greg’s come aboard to create it,” said Adam Pincus, who heads up programming at Topic Studios, the storytelling arm of First Look Media, the company founded by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar.