Books Worm Their Way Into Network TV

Cable and PBS have led the way with successful TV series based on books. The networks are  following suit this pilot season, ordering what Deadline refers to as “a slew” of projects based on books. That’s a bit of an overstatement — of the over 100 pilots that have been green lighted, only a dozen are based on books and only a handful of those are familiar to readers. The real news will be which make it to series and, for book people, which bring new readers to the books.

Among those with a built-in audience are two based on YA titles:

The Selection

The Selection —  CW — based on the first book in the best-selling dystopian trilogy by Kiera Cass (HarperTeen), in show biz speak, it is described as a “cross between The Bachelor and Hunger Games,” as young women in the future compete for the chance to marry the Prince. The pilot is finally moving ahead, after the script was sent back for a rewrite last year. UPDATE: Pilot rejected

DeliriumDelirium — FOX — based on the first book in another best selling dystopian trilogy (HarperCollins), this one by Lauren Oliver. Set in the future, a young woman defies the order that she be treated for an outlawed condition, love (“the delirium”). The two leads have been cast; Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew, Scream 4, and Nickelodeon’s Unfabulous) and Daren Kagasoff (Secret Life).

A few are based on well-known adult titles:

About a Boy — NBC — may be based more on the movie, starring Hugh Grant, than the book by Nick Hornby (Penguin/Riverhead). Minnie Driver and David Walton (New Girl) cast as leads.  UPDATE: On MidSeason schedule, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.

Girlfriend in a Coma — NBC — Christina Ricci has been cast in the lead of this pilot about a woman who wakes up from a coma to discover that she has a 17-year-old daughter. It is based on Douglas Coupland’s 1998 novel (HarperCollins). UPDATE: Ricci walked away from the lead, delaying the project.

Stephen King’s Under the Dome – CBS — this one skipped the pilot stage and is already scheduled to premiere on June 24. Expectations are high, as evidenced by the network’s investment in a SuperBowl ad. First look released, 4/1/13. UPDATEto premiere on CBS on Monday, June 24 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT

Cable — we’re focusing on the network pilots, but should also note the high-profile adaptations in progress for cable. A pilot has been ordered by FX for The Strain, based on the first book in the vampire trilogy by director Guillermo Del Toro and co-author Chuck Hogan (HarperCollins). HBO is moving forward with The Leftovers, based on Tom Perrota’s novel and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Two are based on books by Scandinavian writers that have not yet been published here:

I Am Victor — NBC — features a high-powered divorce lawyer, based on Jo Nesbo’s upcoming book. UPDATE: Rejected

Backstrom — CBS — based on  a series by Leif G.W. Persson about an overweight detective.   UPDATEPilot rejected by CBS — picked up by FoxDeadline, 1/7/14

Two are based on comics/graphic novels:

S.H.I.E.L.D. — ABC  —  Stands for the Strategic Hazard Intervention, Espionage Logistic Directorate, a secret intelligence organization that has appeared in various Marvel series, including Iron Man, Captain America and The Ultimates. Began shooting, Jan, 2013. Title changed to MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.UPDATE: Scheduled for Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

The Sixth Gun – NBC — Based on the Oni Press graphic novel, a supernatural Western series that follows the story of six mythical guns, the sixth being the most powerful and dangerous. UPDATE: Rejected

Three are modern-day interpretations of classics that might not even be recognized by their original authors:

Venice — ABC — about a forbidden romance between the offspring of two rival families in Venice, California. UPDATE: Not mentioned in Upfronts, so may be rejected

Wonderland – NBC — in which a girl named Clara wages war in Wonderland against an evil Queen once known as Alice. UPDATE: Production pushed back. However, debuting on ABC is the similarly-titled Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, a spinoff of the Once Upon a Time series.

Sleepy Hollow – FOX — a time warp lands a captain from the Revolutionary War named Ichabod into the present day, where he becomes a detective. UPDATE: Series scheduled for Mondays at 9 p.m. in the fall.

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