It’s been almost two years since I mused that Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series might find a home on TV. “It may take years,” I said, “before this valuable asset becomes a TV series.” Well, the series just took an important step toward becoming the next Game of Thrones hit in the high fantasy genre.
That’s the gist of an exclusive report from Variety. So where is the project going next?
Legal battles over WoT‘s production licenses have now faded in the rearview mirror, as Comcast‘s NBC division handed over the property’s control to Sony (NYSE:SNE). Indie production house Red Eagle Entertainment, which Jordan and his estate found impossible to work with in the past, is still in the picture, alongside billionaire Ted Field’s movie house, Radar Pictures.
Radar Pictures actually has some street cred in producing the fantasy film genre. The studio’s work includes the 2017 Jumanji remake, Jon Favreau’s Zathura: A Space Adventure, and the Riddick franchise, starring Vin Diesel.
Variety dropped a few names attached to this project, including Rafe Judkins. Judkins got started in show biz as a contestant on the 2005 season of Survivor (second runner-up in the jungles of Guatemala), and leveraged that experience into screenwriting jobs with several major studios. His writing credits include episodes for NBC sci-fi comedy series Chuck, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) property ABC’s superhero yarn Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) horror show Hemlock Grove.
The usual insider suspects from Red Eagle and Radar will also get executive producer credits, along with Turbo writer Darren Lemke and a consulting producer credit for Jordan’s widow, Harriet McDougal.
With those tea leaves in hand, what can we expect out of the Wheel of Time project?
Having McDougal aboard should ensure that the show pays proper respect to the original material. Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) and HBO don’t stick strictly to the books in Game of Thrones, and massive fantasy series will always require some tweaking to fit into the format of movies or a TV series. But McDougal’s presence is still a good sign for purists — and this may very well have been a sticking point in studio negotiations.
Sony owns only one TV station in America, the movies-only Sony Movie Channel. That would be an unlikely broadcast outlet for a high-budget fantasy series. But Sony Pictures Television is one of the world’s largest and most prolific production studios, having active deals with pretty much any broadcaster you’d care to name. Common collaborators include NBC (The Blacklist, The Night Shift), ABC (Notorious, Beyond the Tank), AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) (Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, Preacher), and Netflix (Bloodline, The Get Down).
Pairing this list…