TV Surf Report: Fair To Good Conditions With Lots of Trends To Watch Like Adaptations And Super Heroes


Santa Monica, CA — (Updated 15 January 2015)

The Fall Television Season has just premiered, but networks and digital platforms are already buying new shows and ordering scripts to keep the production machine going.

Two Major Trends are emerging thus far:


Adaptations continue to be very popular.  Writers, are ya sure your script isn’t a Book or perhaps, a hit Song first?  How about a Graphic Novel?

Sorry original screenplay writers, but buyers love a good adaptation of a well-known property that already has a fanbase in place that they don’t have spend marketing dollars explaining what the show is.  Keep writing, though.  Your personal stories will get you the job of adapting the comic book!

All through the halls of Hollywood studios, mid-level studio executives can be heard exalting “it’s based on a best-selling book!” to prospective buyers and upper-level executives who don’t have time (or the inclination) to read.


  • SyFy just ordered a script based on Frederick Pohl’s Gateway, Starz has ordered Leonardo Padura’s Havana Quartet, TNT bought Caleb Carr’s The Alienist.
  • CBS just ordered a pilot adaptation of the Denzel Washington film (based on a book) for Training Day.
  • NBC, as promised, has gotten in the Dolly Parton business in a big way, having just ordered Jolene, its second made-for-movie from Dolly Parton based on her hit songs. Up this December is the faith-based Coat of Many Colors.
  • Anne Hathaway to star in and produce (along with Mark Gordon) The Ambassador’s Wife, based on Jennifer Steil’s novel about an American woman kidnapped in the Middle East.  No network attached yet, but expect a bidding war for this high-profile limited series
  • IM Global is working on Cat’s Cradle, an adaptation of the Kurt Vonnegut novel.
  • Riverdale at The CW is based on the Archies Comic.  Uber-Producer Greg Berlanti attached.  Expect a darker-edged teen drama set in SoCali.
  • Little Women gets an update at The CW.  Actor Michael Weatherly produces a gritty version set in Philly.  Please don’t tell Louisa May Alcott.  Oh, Beth!
  • The Notebook, Nicholas Spark’s novel and subsequent hit film with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, gets adapted at The CW, minus the older couple affected by Alzheimers Disease.  The CW audience can’t handle older folks.
  • Urban Cowboy, the John Travolta-Debra Winger hit film, gets re-made at Fox.
  • And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie’s popular mystery, comes to Lifetime courtesy of BBC-1.  Shoots in Cornwall.
  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert at PBS-Masterpiece explores the life of a 19th century lady botanist.


  • Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson looks like a go at Spike TV.  The first murder in Space is solved as the colonization of Mars commences.  Vince Gerardis (Game of Thrones) produces.
  • American Gods at Starz.  Neil Gaiman adapts and Bryan Fuller produces Gaiman’s novel.
  • Good Behavior at TNT.  Michelle Dockery set to star in this adaptation of Blake Crouch’s Letty Dobesh books called Confidence Girl.
  • Brooklyn Animal Control has been ordered to pilot at USA.  David Goyer adapts the comic about a werewolf crime family.
  • Protocol Orphans is a comic written by actor Peter Facinelli (Nurse Jackie, Twilight) in development at Fox.
  • The Bourbon Kings at NBC is a family soap set in Kentucky adapted from J.R. Ward’s novel.
  • Sawyer & Finn at CBS has a pilot commitment for this updated story of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, now set in modern-day St. Louis and involving, you guessed it, investigators.
  • Hypochondriac on Fox is an adaptation of the Colombian telenovela, La Hipocondriaca, wherein, a woman is diagnosed with a fatal disease and then sets out to live her life.  Julie Bowen (Modern Family) executive produces.
  • Galaxy Quest gets adapted at Amazon.  Same producing team returns for TV version which bodes well. By Grabthar’s Hammer!


  • Wizard of Lies is the second Bernie Madoff biopic in development.  HBO has booked a 2-hour with Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer based on Diana Henriques’ book with additional material from Laurie Sandell’s Truth & Consequences.  Meanwhile, Richard Dreyfuss and Blythe Danner star as the Madoffs in ABC’s 4-hour miniseries.
  • Caesar at ABC is a contemporary re-telling of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar centering on the Mayor of LA who is murdered by conspirators.
  • Stop! In the Name of Love! at The BBC is a 4-episode miniseries based on the hit songs of Motown which underscore the lives of six women living and loving in modern-day London. Duncan Kenworthy executive produces.
  • Brides at NBC re-imagines the Brides of Dracula not dead but living in Manhattan in a soapy family drama from uber-producer Greg Berlanti.  HEX In The City, anyone?  No residuals for you, Bram Stoker.


  • I’m Dying Up Here at Showtime is an adaptation of William Knoedelseder’s book about the LA standup comedy scene in the 1970s.  Jim Carrey exec produces the Dave Flebotte comedy pilot directed by Jonathan Levine starring RJ Cyler (Me & Earl & The Dying Girl)
  • Gunsights at AMC is an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel by Chris Provenzano (Justified).
  • You Me Her at DirectTV is inspired by the Playboy article, “Sugar on Top,” and stars Greg Poehler and Rachel Blanchard in this 10-episode order comedy by John Scott Shepherd.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events at Netflix is an adaptation of Daniel Handler’s Lemony Snicket books about three orphans on the continual run from evil Count Olaf.  Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed the Paramount film, executive produces the series version.
  • Shooter at USA is a re-make of the 2007 Paramount film starring Mark Wahlberg AND an adaptation of Stephen Hunter’s novel, Point of Impact, featuring an off-the-grid Marine sniper.  Ryan Phillippe stars.  Wahlberg executive produces.
  • Downward Dog at ABC originated as a web series about a comedic look at a woman and her dog.
  • Fences at HBO is an adaptation of the August Wilson play to star Denzel Washington (who will also direct) and Viola Davis.  Washington to direct one Wilson play for HBO every year for the next 10 years as part of the Pittsburgh Cycle.
  • Viva La Madness stars Jason Staham in the sequel to Layer Cake.  No network yet.
  • Taken at NBC received a series order for a prequel drama based on the Luc Besson film series.

inlineoffire   JACK RYAN

  • In the Line of Fire at NBC is an adaptation of the 1993 Wolfgang Peterson film starring Clint Eastwood as a Secret Service Agent.  In the series, he gets a female partner, natch.
  • Red at NBC is an adaptation of the popular film series starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich as retired hitmen.
  • Jack Ryan has a series order at Amazon and follows the famous Tom Clancy character in his early years.  Carlton Cuse  (Lost) and Graham Roland executive produce.
  • Nancy Drew at CBS gets re-imagined as an NYPD detective in her 30s.  Oy vey!
  • The Skin Trade at Cinemax is an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s novella, The Skin Trade, which centers on an investigator partnered with a werewolf in SF to solve crimes.
  • The Invaders at ABC is a darkly funny soap based on Karolina Waclawiak’s book.
  • Braunschlag at ABC is a comedic adaptation of the Austrian series about a small-town (now, female) mayor who fakes a miracle.
  • Fantasy Island at ABC is the 2nd re-boot of the infamous Aaron Spelling series with a new twist:  Mr. Roarke is now a lady, and the fantasies are darker and more psychological hard-hitting.


S U P E R   H E R O E S 


Super Heroes will continue to make their presence felt on the small screen.

Fox and Marvel continue to hammer out a deal for X-Men which I am calling Xavier’s School For the Gifted (because A) it’s a great title! and B) what other setting could they possibly go with!).  DC Comics leads the way, which is interesting since DC is rushing to catch up to red-hot Marvel Studios in the film world:

DC Comics Series:

  • SuperGirl on CBS
  • Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on The CW.  Hawkman & HawkGirl to be introduced on Legends.
  • Matt Ryan of NBC’s canceled Constantine reprises his role on Arrow.
  • Lucifer on Fox is based on the Neil Gaiman comic wherein Lucifer punishes criminals in LA.
  • Titans on TNT (network has passed; shopping elsewhere).
  • Powerless, a workplace comedy set at an insurance company in the DC Universe, at NBC.  Ben Queen writes/produces.
  • Krypton at SyFy is a David Goyer-produced prequel about Superman’s Grandfather who foresees the planet’s destruction.
  • Watchmen at HBO is under serious discussion with feature director Zack Snyder.

Marvel Series:

  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC.
  • Agent Carter on ABC.
  • Marvel’s Most Wanted: Mockingbird pilot starring Adrienne Padalicki and Nick Blood at ABC.
  • Untitled Top Secret Project at ABC with John Ridley scripting.  Am guessing either Blade or Black Panther.
  • Hellfire Fox.  Evan Katz & Manny Coto write and produce this series set in The Hellfire Club glimpsed in X-Men.
  • Legion at FX is based on the comic character who is the son of Charles Xavier.
  • Daredevil at Netflix has been ordered to Season Two.  First of 4-series deal for a 5th series, The Defenders.
  • Jessica Jones at Netflix.  Krysten Ritter and Carrie-Anne Moss star.  Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight) writes/produces.
  • Iron Fist at Netflix. The martial artist has yet to be cast.
  • Luke Cage at Netflix stars Mike Colter and Alfre Woodard.
  • Damage Control at ABC has a pilot commitment and centers on the Marvel Cleaning Crew who show up after Iron Man & Co. devastate your city block in order to save you.

And There’s More:

  • Heroes: Reborn on NBC.
  • Xena Re-Boot in development at NBC.  Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost) writes/produces.
  • American Gods at Starz with Neil Gaiman adapting his novel about the conflict between Old Gods and New on Earth. Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) executive produces. David Slade directs.
  • Preacher on AMC stars Dominic Cooper based on the comic.  Seth Rogan produces.




Next Up:  Cord-Cutting vs On-Demand/Order As You Go



About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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