It seems fair to say that “The Shawshank Redemption” director Frank Darabont‘s first foray into television since his movie breakthrough came with mixed success. Despite basically being like every other zombie tale, just slower and more annoying, “The Walking Dead,” an adaptation of the long-running comic book, became one of cable’s biggest hits when it first aired in 2010. When he came to Comic-Con last year in support of the show, Darabont was high on the potential of a second series, but days later, he left the show, reportedly fired by AMC after clashing with the network over budget cuts.
Some wondered if Darabont might return to the big-screen, but it looks like that won’t be the case, as Deadline reports that the writer/director has just set up another TV project at one of AMC’s rivals. According to the site, he’ll write and direct a pilot for TNT based on John Buntin‘s non-fiction tome “L.A. Noir: The Struggle For The Soul Of America’s Most Seductive City,” which revolves around clashes between L.A. Police Chief William Parker and notorious gangster Mickey Cohen in the 1940s and 1950s.
The series is described as a “fast-paced crime drama” pitting a corrupt crime force against a deadly group of criminals; TNT head of programming Michael Wright says, “This project is a sweeping tale of the battle for the soul of the city that was waged between the forces of the LAPD and the West Coast mob,” while Darabont adds “”Noir is a passion of mine, so I feel blessed to delve into a project that speaks in the hardboiled vernacular. John Buntin’s superb book, though non-fiction, is our touchstone and inspiration for the stories we’ll be telling, weaving fiction throughout the facts and facts throughout the fiction… The goal is to deliver on the tone that the title L.A. Noir promises: a smart, gritty, authentic, period noir drama.”
The project is certainly riding the zeitgeist, following hot on the heels of the hit video game “L.A. Noire” (which we suspect may lead to a title change), set around the same period, while this fall will see Warner Bros‘ “Gangster Squad,” which focuses on many of the same character, with Nick Nolte as Bill Parker and Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen.
It’s a pretty enticing prospect for a series (although an undoubtedly expensive one, given the period setting), and should fit in neatly at TNT, who’ve made cop dramas like “Southland,” “The Closer” and “Rizzoli & Isles” their bread-and-butter. Hopefully the show won’t be a simple procedural — Darabont’s ambitions certainly seem to suggest he’s aiming for more. Darabont will direct the pilot, while Michael De Luca (“Moneyball“) and former literary agent Elliot Webb are producing; hopefully we’ll see this on screens soon.