NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt was all about television “events” when he arrived at the TCA press tour today to talk about the network’s turbulent past year and its upcoming plans. The lure of programming that people feel the need to watch live — whether that be sports, the Thanksgiving Day parade, reality competitions like “The Voice” or limited series that can be given a major push — has become the great hope for the big networks, who’ve been seeing their share of viewers decline and who’ve struggled to keep up in terms of quality and ratings with the scripted and unscripted series from the increasingly dominant cable channels.
Part of NBC’s strategy, and other networks, involves investing in high-profile limited and miniseries. Greenblatt announced a slew of new ones in the works this morning — most interestingly for Indiewire audiences, a “remake/resetting” of Ira Levin’s “Rosemary’s Baby,” the novel that served as the basis for Roman Polanski’s 1968 classic film, as a four-hour miniseries. The new version will be set in Paris and comes from Lionsgate, with Scott Abbott (“Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”) writing and Joshua Maurer, David Stern, Perri Kipperman and Alix Witlin serving as executive producers.
The network is also preparing a four-hour miniseries about Hillary Clinton called “Hillary,” with Diane Lane set to play former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (Bill has yet to be cast). It will be written and directed by Oscar nominee Courtney Hunt (“Frozen River”), and will look at Clinton’s life as a wife, mother, politician and cabinet member from 1998 to the present, begining with Clinton living in the White House as her husband is serving the second of his two terms as president. Sherryl Clark of Busted Shark will serve as executive producer along with James D. Stern (“Looper,” “I’m Not There”) and producers Julie Goldstein and Lucas Smith of Endgame Entertainment.
Citing the success of “Under the Dome,” Greenblatt announced the network would be taking another run at “The Tommyknockers,” which was adapted into a miniseries once before in 1993. “Stephen King’s Tommyknockers” is based on the 1987 novel about how the residents of a small Maine town deal with what they believe is an alien spacecraft that has landed nearby. Frank Konigsberg and Larry Sanitsky will executive produce the project, which will be directed by Yves Simoneau (“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”).
And “Plymouth” will be a limited series about the Pilgrims’ journey across the Atlantic and the difficulties of settling into a new country, executive produced by Mark Burnett (whose “The Bible” sequel will also be headed to NBC), Anne Thomopolous, Gina Matthews and Grant Sharbo. Walon Green (“The Hellstrom Chronicle”) will write the project.