Guillermo del Toro's The Strain coming to FX

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High King
Apr 4, 2004
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‘The Strain’ Drama From Guillermo Del Toro And Carlton Cuse Gets Pilot Order At FX

Guillermo del Toro is bringing his vampire novel trilogy The Strain to television as a drama series, which will be run by former Lost co-showrunner Carlton Cuse. In a very competitive situation with multiple cable networks offering major commitments, FX has landed the project, ordering a pilot that will be co-written, directed and executive produced by del Toro. Co-writing the pilot script is Chuck Hogan (Prince Of Thieves), who also co-authored the books with del Toro. Lost alum Cuse will help develop the series and serve as executive producer/showrunner. Like Lost, The Strain is envisioned as having a limited run. Del Toro tells Deadline he believes the books have enough juice to fill three to five seasons of series, and that he would like to helm as many episodes as his feature schedule allows. Del Toro, Cuse and Hogan exec produce with del Toro’s long-time manager/producing partner Gary Ungar.

In the opening book of the series, the 2009 The Strain, a Boeing 777 lands at JFK with no communication or signs of life. Eph Goodweather, who investigates biological threats for the CDC, is called in and discovers all the passengers dead, and signs that a strange being had been aboard the vessel. Soon, he teams with ex-professor and Holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian and they assemble a ragtag group that represents mankind’s only hope when a swarm of vampires quickly turn civilization into a buffet spread. Fittingly for male-driven FX, unlike the traditional, romanticized portrayals of vampires as tuxedo-clad studs, The Strain‘s bloodsuckers have no seductive powers — they are parasites, husks of their former human form with stingers that drain blood for nourishment, while spreading capillary worms that convert victims into more vampires under the control of The Master.

This marks the first time FX has committed to a drama pilot off a pitch. It also makes it a full circle for The Strain, which del Toro originally conceived as a TV series. When he couldn’t sell it, then-Endeavor agent Richard Abate, now at 3 Arts, suggested del Toro turned the idea into a book and made the introduction to Hogan. When the first book was published, the networks and studios came knocking. “We started receiving offers for movies and TV rights after the publication of the first book but we didn’t want do anything because we didn’t want that train of thought to influence the way we were writing the books,” del Toro told Deadline.

Not surprisingly given the origins of the project, del Toro said he and Hogan, who are writing a different book trilogy together, decided early on that the best way to tell the trilogy’s long story on screen was on TV. “Once the third book was published, we went back to every cable network that expressed interest, and we pitched the series,” del Toro said. “FX made the most sense, based on the level of commitment, passion and understanding of the concept of the book. They got behind the idea of making this a close-ended series; we wanted to follow the books closely and so it couldn’t be open-ended, but rather three to five seasons max.”

Del Toro feels that the initial book can cover a season, and same with the 2010 follow-up The Fall. The Night Eternal, which concluded the series, can be broken up into two seasons, he said. There are also subplots that didn’t make the book, and he’s leaving room for creative detours that develop in the evolution of the series.

Del Toro said he and Hogan will start writing the script at year’s end and prep a pilot that will shoot in September, after the director’s big summer film Pacific Rim opens in July. Cuse, who also executive produces A&E’s Psycho prequel series Bates Motel, now in pre-production on a 10-episode order, is expected to run both projects concurrently. “Carlton Cuse will be a huge help in carrying this to the finish line,” he said. “He’s very well established, and a strong sounding board and producer.” As for his plan to “direct as many episodes as I can through the life of the series,” del Toro notes that time passes between movies, sometimes as long as four years. “I’d have loved to have had a series to escape to and have fun with. We have that with the world Chuck and I created, one that Carlton and I will create for TV.”

The Strain, which marks del Toro’s first greenlighted U.S. series project, was always intended for cable. “One of the reasons I wanted to be involved in cable is I love the long character arcs in these shows, and how they are slightly malleable and the way that secondary characters in the books can become more important in series,” he said. Del Toro, a pop culture junkie, considers the recent past and present pay and basic cable TV series to be a golden age. He cited everything from Luther to Sons Of Anarchy, Game Of Thrones, The Sopranos, The Walking Dead, Deadwood, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Justified as influences. “Creatively it is the richest field to mine a long arc of character, and I follow about 13 of these series,” del Toro said. “Not only that, but I cast much of my movie, Pacific Rim, from it.” That film stars Elba, from The Wire and Luther, Charlie Hunnam, who plays the lead in FX’s Sons Of Anarchy, as well as It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s Charlie Day.

In addition to three best-selling Harper Collins books and now a TV show, The Strain also has spawned a Dark Horse comic series. Del Toro is repped by WME, Hirsch Wallerstein and Ungar. Hogan, who also wrote the novel Prince Of Thieves that Ben Affleck turned into The Town, is with 3 Arts and UTA. Cuse is repped by WME and Del Shaw.
Sounds good.
We have so many movies and tv shows romanticizing vampires. Now we get to hopefully see the more brutal animalistic version of vamps.
Sounds good.
We have so many movies and tv shows romanticizing vampires. Now we get to hopefully see the more brutal animalistic version of vamps.

I hate all these contemporary vampires that are able to go out during the day or the worst sort of vampire... the lonely, sensitive and romantic vampire who can induce and entice any mindless airhead female twit that he has a hardon for to turn of her own free will...

what a load of crap...
Love this but hate that the pilot won't be filmed until September 2013, which means if the series gets picked up it won't be on the air until fall 2014 or early 2015.

Just order it to series and commit to 10-13 episodes, it adapts a single book so it will at least wrap certain things up. That way it could be on the air by spring 2014.

Not good for Powers, FX is moving onto developing other projects.
We don't know that it'll take that long to air. American Horror Story was greenlit in early 2011 and on the air by October.... Then again, this is GDT we're talking about, and we all know what that guy's schedule is like.

I've already accepted that Powers is essentially dead and buried, sadly. :csad:
We don't know that it'll take that long to air. American Horror Story was greenlit in early 2011 and on the air by October.... Then again, this is GDT we're talking about, and we all know what that guy's schedule is like.

I've already accepted that Powers is essentially dead and buried, sadly. :csad:

That also had Ryan Murphy involved who already worked at FX and having it premiere in October would be ideal. Plus they had canceled Terriers so there was an opening. That's the fastest you'll ever get a cable show on.

Justified and Lights Out both signed deals in Feb.2009.

Justified premiered in Mar.2010.
Lights Out premiered in Jan.2011.

Part of it is scheduling the show to premiere but other times its to rewrite and reshoots/recast and test the show.

FX's The Americans had a deal in February of this year, didn't get a series order until August but we won't see this until early 2013.

2014 will have the last season for Sons of Anarchy and Justified will be 5 seasons old, so FX needs some new blood quick.
I hate all these contemporary vampires that are able to go out during the day or the worst sort of vampire... the lonely, sensitive and romantic vampire who can induce and entice any mindless airhead female twit that he has a hardon for to turn of her own free will...

what a load of crap...
Agreed. Less romance and brooding, more insane need for blood and ripping of limbs.

****ing happy right now. I loved The Strain books. BRING IT ON!!!!
I don't mind if the series doesn't start until 2014/15, because it gives me more time to read the books.:awesome:
Have only read first book, have the 2nd one there to read, but thought the first book was superb, really enjoyed it so delighted with this news.

Eagerly anticipating this now, especially with GDT involved.
I'm excited that del Toro opt this to be a series rather than a trilogy of movies, not only that but FX and Cuse, I think it's going to do wonders but the wait is going to be unbearable. Nevertheless I can't wait the day when they chose the actor for Setrakian and if the series is successful, Augustin.
^Yeah, it'll be interesting to see who they choose for the main characters.

One thing i do hope is that the vampires are EXACTLY like the books, the way they were described they sounded scary, especially with that thing that shot out of their mouths.
Being that this is not going into production until September... do you think we'll have to wait terribly long for casting? Because, if so, :csad:

I need something.
^Unfortunately yes, I think we do have quite a wait on our hands for more news, but its okay, I will just read the other 2 books in the meantime.
I'm debating whether or not I want to read the books before this airs or if I want to be surprised by the series.
I'm thinking they won't cast until the summer. Network pilot casting will begin in Janauary so they'll wait until that's over and the networks have picked up their shows since there may be some actors who become available on new shows not being picked up and current shows canceled in April/May.
Well, hopefully we get something sooner rather than later... concept art, a teaser poster, anything...
Comic Con maybe? Hopefully a little sooner, but GDT rules that place, so ya never know.
LOVED the first book, have had the next two but havent had time to read them.

Find it funny that Fox passed on the show so Del Toro made it a book and now FX picks it up lol
Comic Con maybe? Hopefully a little sooner, but GDT rules that place, so ya never know.

If GDT is there he'll be interviewed by the media but there won't be a panel. FX just ordered a pilot. While it is likely it will make it onto TV, so did the Powers TV adaption and that thing has to be dead after 2 years of FX not committing to ordering it to series.
Del Toro Provides Another Update on The Strain TV Series
by Ryan Turek
November 12, 2012

Guillermo del Toro's The Strain is going to live on as a television series, as we learned in September. Fox commissioned a greenlit pilot and when we spoke to Del Toro shortly after the announcement, he told us: "Fortunately for me, that means they're not commissioning a screenplay or development. We're going right to pilot. That's a very good piece of news."

Del Toro has provided another update on the potential series, this time he's talking to MTV and he's providing a time frame in which we'll be seeing some big developments occur.

He told the site, "We're planning to shoot the pilot in August. Pacific Rim comes out in July. Right after "Pacific Rim" we go into pilot shooting. We are already prepping the pilot starting next week. The pilot has been approved so it's green-lit. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. Our expectations are for FX to move ahead with the series next Fall and Winter and for the series to air in 2014."

Del Toro said the potential series will indeed be a bit "brutal," however, right now, they're locking down the tone. "Basically I'm trying to do what I do in my movies which is to show it as a reality, but as a reality that is stylized. It's not like "CSI" or "The Wire," it's real but it feels a little stylized. But the way the camera work will be is very realistic. We want to keep the camera very documentary even if the look of the show is not. The look of the show is very designed. The style of the camera and the storytelling will be very loose. It will evolve from that feel of reality, and little by little we want to evolve into more stylish, horror feel that requires smoother camera moves, more suspense and atmosphere-driven moments so it will be a mixture. I don't think that mixture has been seen a lot on TV."

The set-up for the series goes like this: When a Boeing 777 lands at JFK International Airport and goes dark on the runway, the Centers for Disease Control, fearing a terrorist attack, calls in Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team of expert biological-threat first responders. Only an elderly pawnbroker from Spanish Harlem suspects a darker purpose behind the event - an ancient threat intent on covering mankind in darkness.
Just cant wait for this to get going now, just the pilot alone should be amazing.
IGN: I also wanted to ask you about The Strain and working with Del Toro.

Landgraf: I’m so excited about that. I read through all the books. I’ve sat and talked to him and Chuck Hogan, his collaborator on the books, and Carlton Cuse, who’s going to be his collaborator and showrunner, about everything that’s great about those books. Those books haunted my dreams. But we also talked about what needs to change and what needs to grow and what needs to adapt. I think they’re on a really exciting front. I’m going to see the outline for the pilot soon, and I’ll see the pilot script in a few months. We actually hired designers, so I’m actually going to start to see maquettes and design elements in a month. Guillermo’s basically scheduling his life around directing both the pilot and basically functioning as a showrunner. We’re going to shoot it in Canada for financial reasons, because it’s an epic, epic story. It’s really expensive. But also because that’s where he’s doing his movie, and he’s going to move his family up there. We’ve already started talking to graphic and design houses, not only the one Guillermo’s affiliated with here but the ones in Canada. So I would say there’s an extremely high probability that’s going to be a series, not a pilot, but ultimately a season. And I think based on the books it’s going to be either three, four or five years, because I think we’re going to tell the basic epic story of the books. I think there are some places we’re going to expand or elaborate, but ultimately I think the beginning of the story is the beginning of the series and the end of the books is the end of the series. A lot of the stuff that happens in the middle will be the same, but a lot will be different. And we think trying to stretch that out for six or seven years would just be bad.

IGN: That’s an interesting approach, because FX is airing more traditional long-running series like Sons of Anarchy, and then you’ve got American Horror Story, where it reinvents itself each year. This is kind an area that exists in the middle of that.

Landgraf: It is. You know, what I realized -- and I credit Ryan Murphy with really opening my eyes on this -- it was such an innovation to go from this orthodoxy that you had to have 22 episodes a year, and you had to be able to make as many episodes as possible -- 300, 200, 150 -- to this notion that, wow, there’s this really amazing model around the notion of just doing 13 a year and maybe just doing seven years. I credit the Sopranos with that innovation. What it did is it allowed us, instead of making episodic television dramas, it allowed us to start making 90-hour movies. So there’s all these brilliant 90-hour movies -- The Sopranos, The Shield, Breaking Bad -- these incredible movies, really. They’re long movies. But then I’ve started to think, “Well, wait a minute, though. If my criteria when someone walks into my office and pitches me something is, if it’s not 90 hours long then leave, then what am I leaving on the table?” Because I’m leaving everything on the table between what can be successfully adapted into a movie. By the way, take The Lord of the Rings. You can’t make a movie based on The Lord of the Rings. You can make three movies based on The Lord of the Rings, but there’s a whole lot of really great books that can’t be adapted into a single movie. So then your situation becomes, if you can’t make $800 million-worth of film, then you can’t even do it, right? So my point was then, “Okay, wait a minute. If we just open the door for everything between two hours and 90 hours, of any length -- four hours, six, eight, ten, 13, 26, 40, 50, 60, anything -- then in a way what we’re doing for creators… Because that’s what this is all about. Storytellers are saying the same thing we’re saying to David Chase and others, which is, “We don’t care. We’ll figure out the business. You figure out the epic journey, we’ll figure out the business around it.” So I’m really excited about that. We’re going to start making more limited series. In addition to The Strain, which will be somewhere between 39 and 65 episodes, you’re going to see us making a lot more ten to 12 episode limited series, or some of which might be 24 -- they might go a second season, some of them might not. For me, ultimately, it’s about liberating the storyteller and getting to the great story, not about jamming something into a business model.

IGN: Right, and there’s a lot of ideas for shows where you’re like, “Well, that sounds like a great one or two-year idea.”

Landgraf: Exactly, right?

IGN: With Carlton Cuse working as showrunner on Bates Motel, if that were to continue and The Strain goes forward, what will his involvement be?

Landgraf: It’s actually worked out so that he can do both. Part of the reason, by the way, that I picked up six backup scripts [for The Strain] is that I knew that Carlton and Guillermo and Chuck were available now -- because Bates Motel is basically done [with Season 1] -- that they were able to staff up and not only write the pilot but also write five more episodes. So I said, “Okay, I’ll pay the money. Let’s do it now, rather than the way it’s traditionally done,” which is where I have to see the pilot in order to commit that money. My point of view is, look, I’ve got really precious resources here. I’m going to use them when they’re available because I know they all have a lot of other commitments.
Sometime in 2014 is a long wait... but its pretty much a guarantee that they'll get picked up.

SOA will air their last season in 2014 and Justified will have finished their fifth season by the time The Strain airs. America Horror Story 4 will happen and The Americans may or may not get a third season. The only other drama FX has coming this year is The Bridge plus potentially Tyrant in 2014.
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