The Small Screen: Steve Zailian & Richard Price Remaking BBC Hit 'Criminal Justice' For HBO

by Oliver Lyttelton
June 21, 2011 3:02 AM
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Plus David S. Goyer Adapting Comic '100 Bullets' For Showtime, And Sam Raimi's 'Noir' Greenlit By Starz



When what would otherwise be a sure-fire Oscar contender teaming Todd Haynes and Kate Winslet ends up as a five-hour miniseries, when the season finale of "Game of Thrones" is the talk of the town, and when Darren Aronofsky follows up his most successful film to date with a TV pilot written by a Pulitzer Prize-winner, you know that the idea that TV as a lesser medium is long gone. In the last six months alone, names like Gus Van Sant, Mark Romanek, Jody Hill, Tom Hanks, Neil Gaiman, Aaron Sorkin, Scott Rudin, David Hare, Zooey Deschanel, Robert Towne, Michael Mann, Ron Howard, Javier Bardem, David Fincher and Kevin Spacey have all been working on TV shows to one degree on another.

And they just keep coming, with big-screen names revealing three separate projects in the works over the weekend. Firstly, Variety report that "Schindler's List" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" writer Steve Zaillian, and novelist and "The Wire" veteran Richard Price will work together to pen a remake of the BBC TV series "Criminal Justice" for HBO. The show, written by Peter Moffat, was made up of two separate series, each aired over five consecutive nights, focusing on a single criminal case going to trial; the first starring Ben Whishaw as a young man wrongfully accused of murder and taken under the wing of a veteran inmate (Pete Poselthwaite), the second starring Maxine Peake of "Red Riding" as a woman who attempts to kill her abusive husband (Matthew Macfadyen).

The series was a BAFTA-winning success, and Zaillian and Price are perfect fits for an Americanized remake, although there's no word on any other talent or a timeframe on the new take. The project is one of a spate currently being pushed by BBC Worldwide, the international arm of the British broadcaster, also including an already-announced remake of "I, Claudius" and a Trent Reznor sci-fi drama "Year Zero," while Variety's article also mentions a pair of new projects: an adaptation of Amanda Foreman's American Civil War non-fiction book "A World on Fire: An Epic History Of Two Nations Divided," and "Mirrorball," a drama set in disco-era New York.

Elsewhere, it's been rumored for a while that Brian Azzarello's acclaimed crime comic "100 Bullets" has been heading to the small screen, and Deadline have confirmed that, with the news that graphic novel adaptation veteran David S. Goyer, who's worked on the "Blade" movies, Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy and the upcoming Superman reboot "Man of Steel," will write and executive produce the prospective series. The comic's structure, about a mysterious man, Agent Graves, who offers strangers a chance to take vengeance on those who have wronged them with a briefcase, a gun and the titular century of untraceble bullets, is perfectly suited to TV, combining one-off stories with an overarching mythology, so it's certainly one to keep an eye on, even with Goyer's patchy track record.

Meanwhile, Sam Raimi has a long history of producing action-heavy shows with cohort Rob Tabert, from "Hercules" and "Xena" to the more recent "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," and Deadline also revealed that he's teaming with the network behind the latter, Starz, for "Noir," an adaptation of a Japanese anime series about two female assassins battling a secret society. The series is penned by Steve Lightfoot, who in a neat piece of circularity was the producer on the original version of "Criminal Justice" and the network, who are making increasing inroads into original series, with the Gus Van Sant/Kelsey Grammer drama "Boss" and the Jeffrey Dean Morgan period crime series "Magic City" on the way, will put it straight to series.

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