With the Ebola virus dominating news headlines worldwide, it was only a matter of time until Hollywood dug its heels in on turning the hot-button topic into a full-blown series. Recently, producer Lynda Obst (Interstellar) and director-producer Ridley Scott (Gladiator) announced that they’ll be creating a limited series for Fox TV Studios, adapted from Richard Preston’s 1994 nonfiction bestseller The Hot Zone.
Obst and Scott optioned Preston’s book two decades ago and never abandoned the project, tapping Jeff Vintar (I, Robot) to adapt The Hot Zone into what was originally envisioned as a film for Scott to direct. Now that the recent outbreak – the deadliest on record – has made the virus extremely timely, the pair feel that it’s high time to push ahead with the adaptation, though the project will now take the form of a TV miniseries. Obst said of the decision:
“A limited series is a great way to do this because you don’t have to limit it to a three-act structure like you do with a film.”
She added her explanation of why the Ebola virus has so fascinated and horrified the general public, opining:
“I think it’s the speed with which it kills that makes the disease so frightening. People hoped it would stay in some remote part of the world. But that’s a fantasy in the modern world. The modern world makes us one big connected family.”
The project will incorporate the recent Ebola outbreak, about which Preston recently wrote an article that is set to appear in the October 27th issue of The New Yorker (check it out here). The series will also explore the history of the virus, including a 1989 incident in which primates at a quarantine facility in Virginia became infected with a mutated strain.
David Zucker and Jim Hart, who wrote feature screenplay Crisis in the Hot Zone, will join Obst and Scott as executive-producers. In addition to serving in that capacity, Scott is expected to direct at least the first episode of the upcoming series, which is currently going through script changes in order to encompass Preston’s new article. Once those changes are complete, the producers will begin taking the sure-to-be-fascinating series out to networks.