TV Surf Report: Is It Too Late for The Vampire Lestat — The Next Game of Thrones or Yesterday’s Vampire?

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Santa Monica, CA – Yesterday, author Anne Rice announced via her Facebook page that she is bringing her most famous character, The Vampire Lestat, to Television.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fannericefanpage%2Fposts%2F10154794260300452&width=500“>Anne Rice Announcement on Facebook

After unsuccessfully re-launching the film franchise after two disastrous efforts, Rice has regained the theatrical rights to The Vampire Chronicles from Universal Studios and Imagine Television.

Now, with Game of Thrones as her guidepost, Rice and son Christopher, will executive produce and write a pilot script and series outline starting with the second book of the series, The Vampire Lestat, and then shop it around to the various networks, cable outlets, and streaming services.

But, is it already too late for LestatIs he Yesterday’s Vampire?

Rice’s prototype for Lestat was Jon Bon Jovi, who’s gotta be pushin’ 50 by now. (He’s 54.)  Is there a mid-20s equivalent rock star today:  Nick Jonas? Doubtful but great abs, dude. Drake? Maybe. Adam Levine (too old, but yeah).

atlantis-lestat-book-cover

Full Disclosure:  I. Am. A. Fan.  In fact, I just re-read Prince Lestat as prep work for Rice’s most recent entry, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. I have stuck with Rice through the good and the less good.

Meanwhile, Vampires have been making a killing in Film & TV for decades since Rice published Interview with a Vampire* in 1976…40 years ago.  Yikes! In many ways, others have surpassed her.

Let’s re-cap:

  • Twilight made Lionsgate Studios a major player. Bella Swan and The Cullens owe Rice a great debt. Stephanie Meyer surely must have been influenced by Lestat & Co. The studio has been surprisingly slow in revisiting this franchise since the conclusion of Bella’s story in Breaking Dawn, Part II.
  • Underworld. Kate Beckinsale & Co. fit right into Rice’s universe with their Vampires vs. Werewolves franchise. Very slick sci-fi interpretation.
  • The Vampire Diaries on The CW. Ending its long successful run this season.
  • Penny Dreadful on Showtime. Eva Green vamped it up for three seasons.
  • True Blood on HBO. Another great run making stars of Alexander Skarsgard and Joe Manganiello.  Let’s not forget Anna Paquin or Anna Camp, either!
  • Being Human on SyFy and BBC America. A vampire, a ghost and a werewolf share a flat.  Despite the premise, the series worked!
  • American Horror Story: Coven on FX. This season explored Rice’s beloved Garden District and borrowed pretty liberally from the legend of the Mayfairs.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer on The WB/UPN. Now in reruns for 20 years, Buffy still holds up but it’s an old chestnut in some ways.  Still, those vamps running around Sunnydale quoted Rice more than a few times in its seven-year run.
  • Angel on The WB. Buffy’s successful spinoff set in a moody and dark Los Angeles owes a lot to Rice.
  • The Passage at FOX. Justin Cronin’s very dark futuristic take on vampires created by the US Military who escape and plague the country to near apocalyptic levels is very un-Rice, but it does have a pilot order and the backing of producer Ridley Scott.

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So, who buys The Vampire Lestat?

Hollywood Loves A Good Adaptation.

  • Starz looks like a good fit based on the success of historical science fiction hits like Outlander, Black Sails and Da Vinci’s Demons.
  • HBO seems like the first stop but they have cast their fortune on Westworld and a prequel series to Game of Thrones. Not sure they need Lestat.  Could be a case of plain old bad timing for Rice & Son.
  • Showtime has 18 hours of Twin Peaks coming our way. Can they afford a deal with Rice who commands a hefty price tag just to put pen to paper?
  • FX has American Horror Story, a solid franchise hit for them. Even though it’s aging, I don’t see them going for Lestat.  He’s yesterday’s vampire to Ryan Murphy & Co., I suspect.  Also, basic cable cannot handle the material properly.
  • FOX has a pilot order for The Passage with Ridley Scott in addition to what looks like a successful re-boot of The Exorcist.
  • NBC has Emerald City premiering in January. The trailer looks good but if it fails to connect with the audience, Bob Greenblatt & Co. may shy away from this kind of fantastic material.
  • CBS, ABC: Not a good fit.  Too sexy.  Too homoerotic.  Too violent.  Too spiritual.
  • Netflix. Yes. Netflix is killing it with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders.  A good prototype for spin-offs as they know how to do it:  Shorter episode orders. More seasons. Great casting.
  • Amazon. Yes.  Can promote directly to book readers.
  • SyFy. Highly doubtful the cable network could afford to make such a series and keep it to Rice’s standards. See Van Helsing. She’ll demand quality control (thankfully), so that knocks out this channel which remains mired in B-schlock despite a few bright spots like The Magicians and The Expanse.
  • AMC. I can see them bidding for the property as The Walking Dead is aging, and they could use some fresh blood, so to speak.
  • The CW. Age-wise, this is the right network as Lestat & Co. are all in their early 20s in the books: Young and beautiful immortals.  Hey, that sounds an awful lot like the cast of The Vampire Diaries.  Doubt they would go to the vampire well again so soon.  Also, I doubt the cablet could afford the property. Meanwhile, they are in business with horror master Clive Barker developing Weave World.
  • PBS & Masterpiece.  Don’t count them out.  Lestat could be Public Television’s next mega hit since Downton Abbey.  Plus, lots of room for international deals.  Logical extension of the PBS brand after Poldark.

emerald-city

 

So, what’s next for Rice & Son?

My advice:

  • Think International Co-production. Something along the lines of HBO’s The Young Pope or Rome, which looks/looked great.  Make the series you want to make and then lay it off to a US broadcaster or streaming service.  This ensures you a huge measure of both Quality Control and as few cooks stirring the soup as is (in)humanly possible.
  • Talk to writer/producer Ron Moore. Instinctively, I think he should be Number One on your Showrunner list based on his beautiful renderings of both Outlander on Starz and Battlestar Galactica on SyFy.  Depth of knowledge, humanity and emotion.  He’s the package.  Don’t be packaged into ill-fitting shotgun relationships because of your agent.  On Twitter, Ron is @RonDMoore
  • Go British. For some reason, the UK can elevate the material through fine casting and directing whereas, a US production can rarely surpass it.
  • Learn from the mistakes of Queen of the Damned and Interview with a Vampire, the movies. Dreadful execution on all levels.  Nothing worked.
  • Think in terms of the Anne Rice Universe. Lestat, The Talamasca, The Mayfair Witches, all orbit and inhabit New Orleans and one another, etc.  Spin-off. Spin-off. Spin-off! Consider this when choosing a broadcast outlet and make sure they can do for Lestat what Netflix has done for Marvel and what The CW has done for DC Comics.
  • Hire the casting director from Hamilton. Those actors are beautiful, and the diversity represented in that cast make it relevant for decades to come.

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(*) Note to Reader: My very first job in Hollywood was working as a Production Assistant/Runner for producer Julia Philips, who at the time, had the rights to produce Interview with a Vampire as a movie with David Geffen.  During this time, Oliver Stone was attached to direct with Richard Gere interested to star.  I had the pleasure of driving Rice around Beverly Hills in my humble VW Rabbit!

Next Up:  Lots of Reader Feedback on This Post

(Hopefully).

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 TransMedia from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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