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Amazon takes on The Lord Of The Rings for multi-season TV series

by on Nov.13, 2017, under Books, Television

As we reported last week, Amazon was on the hunt for a mega-franchise, and it appears they’ve got one – and paid a handsome price for it.

Reports are in that Amazon has purchased the TV rights to The Lord Of The Rings – or at least some portion of stories from Middle-earth – for what may be close to $250 million just for the rights, and they’ve made a multi-season commitment already. It is expected a worth production could cost $100-150 million per season. The deal also includes a potential spin-off series.

The twist to the story is that it will not simply be a remake of the movies, but instead cover some period before the time of The Lord Of The Rings. It is not certain if this means it will be set in the time between The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings, or delve further back into the expansive mythology laid out by J.R.R. Tolkien.


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Tolkien Estate shopping a Lord Of The Rings TV series

by on Nov.05, 2017, under Books, Movies, Television

This is interesting…we hear that the Tolkien estate, which manages all the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, is shopping around the rights to a TV series based on Lord Of The Rings to various outlets. Even more interesting is the huge price tag they are placing on it, which is said to be $200-250 million – just for the rights.

Such a project would be hugely ambitious and likely expensive to produce properly, which limits the outlets that could potentially take it on. HBO seems like a natural choice, having already done Game Of Thrones, and with it concluding in its upcoming eighth season that may be looking to fill the void it will leave behind (spinoffs notwithstanding.) Another possibility is Amazon, which is looking for it’s own GoT franchise and has some ambitious projects already in the works. I’d expect any such production to have to run for quite a few years just in order to break even for the rights purchase, which could make it very hard to pull the trigger.

In addition, they would probably have to lengthen to story significantly in order to stretch it long enough, perhaps by integrating a number of other stories of Middle-earth (as flashback storytelling or something like that), but I understand the rights are very limited as well.

At any rate, I think it would be tough to score big with a production that has to live up to and even surpass three great films in order to be deemed a success.


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Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment options Pohl’s Gateway for TV

by on Oct.03, 2017, under Books, Television

The Walking Dead‘s Robert Kirkman and his Skybound Entertainment has optioned the rights to Frederik Pohl’s 1977 novel Gateway for development as a television series.

Gateway is about humanity’s discovery of a space station (dubbed Gateway by the humans) in a hollowed out asteroid, left behind a mysterious long-vanished alien civilization called the Heechee, and food miner Robinette Stetley Broadhead, who leaves Earth after winning the lottery to seek out a better life. It is the first novel in the Heechee saga, comprised of 6 books, and it won the 1977 Nebula and 1978 Hugo and Locus awards, as well as the 1978 John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Gateway has passed through several hands recently. In 2014, Entertainment One Television and De Laurentiis Co. had optioned the novel for television, and then a year later Syfy announced that it had placed the novel on its own development slate, with Entertainment One Television and Universal Cable Productions teaming up, and David Eick (Battlestar Galactica) and Josh Pate (Falling Skies) executive producing.


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Dr. Jerry E. Pournelle 1933-2017

by on Sep.08, 2017, under Books, Obituaries

Author and technology pundit Dr. Jerry E. Pournelle passed away earlier today, according to messages from his son Alex and daughter Jennifer.

I cam across him in so many ways over the years, although we never had the chance to meet in person. I remember his columns in Byte magazine, one of my favorite parts of the magazine, where he discussed using the various things he was sent to review. And like Larry Niven he provided world building in his fiction stories. I was particularly enthralled by the CoDomunium setting, which I discovered through his collaboration with Niven in The Mote In God’s Eye and the sequel The Gripping Hand, where each author played off each other’s strengths.

I’d later encounter Pournelle again in the tech world through the This Week In Tech podcasts, where he was an occasional panel member.

We will certainly miss him.


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Eric Balfour teams with Warren Littlefield for These Broken Stars

by on May.03, 2016, under Books

Haven‘s Eric Balfour and Fargo series executive producer Warren Littlefield are teaming up to develop a series based on the 2013 novel These Broken Stars from Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (the first book of the Spellbound trilogy). And it’s already received interest from Freeform (formerly ABC Family) and Sky TV. Continuum creator Simon Barry will pen the adaptation, being set up at MGM TV.

Also joining the production are Stephanie Varella (Inland Empire), Ann Johnson and Martin Berneman.

These Broken Stars follows what happens to the luxury starliner Icarus when it is abruptly ripped from hyperspace and crash lands on a planet, with two survivors: Lilac LaRoux, the daughter of the richest man in the universe, and Tarver Merendsen, who came from nothing but became a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.


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Robinson’s Red Mars heads straight to series at Spike

by on Dec.08, 2015, under Books, Television

Spike has given a straight-to-series 10 episode order for Red Mars, with plans for it to debut in January 2017, and production starting next summer.

Red Mars is based on the trilogy of novels by Kim Stanley Robinson – Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars – which details the colonization and terraforming of Mars with very hard science behind it, with a story spanning a couple centuries. The series (at least to start) will follow the first colonists as they deal with the harsh conditions and isolation from Earth.

J. Michael Straczynski (Sense8, Babylon 5), who was tapped to pen the pilot earlier this year, will write, executive produce and be showrunner. Game of Thrones‘s Vince Gerardis will also executive produce, along with David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross for Skydance Productions. JMS’s Studio JMS will also produce with Skydance TV. Robinson will consult for the series.


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Author Sir Terry Pratchett passes away at 66

by on Mar.12, 2015, under Books, Obituaries

I sadly found out just a few minutes ago that author Sir Terry Pratchett, best known for his Discworld series of fantasy novels, passed away today at the age of 66 after suffering from Alzheimers since 2007.

Pratchett’s Discworld, in which many of his over 70 books are set, was a flat world which was sitting on the backs of four enormous elephants, who themselves stood on the back of a giant turtle traveling through space.

He received an OBE for his services to literature in 1998, and was knighted in 2009. In 2001 he was Britain’s second most read author, only behind J.K. Rowling.

He took his illness in stride, and kept writing with his last bpok, an anthology of children’s stories, released last summer.

His death was announced on his own Twitter account with a sense of Pratchett’s humor and writing style. The first tweet was written in all upper case as he typically represented his character of Death in his books:

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.

The End.


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Paramount seeks rights to Bester’s The Stars My Destination

by on Mar.02, 2015, under Books, Movies

Paramount is seeking rights to produce a movie based on Alfred Bester’s novel The Stars My Destination, for Mary Parent (Pacific Rim) to produce.

Widely considered one of the best novels in science fiction (in the U.K. it is better known as Tiger! Tiger!), it tells the story of Gulliver Foyle, a man who is marooned is space for six months as the sole survivor of a merchant spaceship and becomes consumed with rage when a passing ship ignores his signals. He repairs the ship but is then captured and tatooed with a tiger mask on his face. He later escapes and has the tatoos removed – but it is only partially successful, with the scars appearing when he becomes enraged. He then embarks on a quest for revenge for those who left him to die.

Like many of the top novels in the genre, it may be a longshot for it to ever get to the screen (and like them there have been many failed attempts), but we can dream…


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SF author Larry Niven becomes SFWA Grand Master

by on Mar.02, 2015, under Awards, Books

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) today announced that the 2015 recipient of the 31st Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is none other than one of our favorite authors, Larry Niven!

The multiple Hugo and Nebula winning author is best known for his Ringworld novels that helped define the megastructure genre, but he was also a prolific writer of short stories set within multiple universes, and teamed up well with other authors, notably Jerry Pournelle, with whom he shared several Hugo and Nebula nominated novels.

SFWA President Steven Gould said, “One of the great honors of being SFWA president is the announcing the latest Grandmaster recipient. One of the drawbacks is only getting to name one at a time when we have several worthy candidates. I take great pleasure in naming Larry Niven as this year’s Damon Knight Memorial Grandmaster. As Lev Grossman said in Time Magazine about Niven’s work, “It’s a bravura demonstration of technology and psychology both playing off and feeding back into each other. This feedback loop — so fundamental to great science fiction’s power — is at the heart of Niven’s work: we create tools, and our tools shape the world, but they also shape us, in unintended and unexpected ways.”

“I’ve always wanted one of these. It does definitely mean I’ve gotten old,” said Niven. “I’ve been publishing fiction for more than fifty years now. I’m convinced I picked the right career.”

Niven joins 30 other Grand Masters, with names as prestigious as Bradbury, Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov and more.

Bravo, Master.


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The Wheel of Time TV series pilot that no one knew about

by on Feb.11, 2015, under Books, Television

Did you know FXX aired a pilot for a series based on the late Robert Jordan’s hugely-popular Wheel of Time book series? And that it aired in the wee hours Monday morning? Nope, no one else did either.

How could such a momentous occasion pass by so unnoticed by so many? Well, first let’s just say that “momentous” is most certainly not the correct word to use. Second, it was less about producing a true pilot as much as it was to meet a contractual requirement to retain the rights.

As we’ve learned from the Dungeons & Dragons rights suit, as well as Fox reportedly rebooting Fantastic Four just to retain the rights, most rights contracts for adaptations have clauses that say some minimum level of production is required to retain the rights, or they revert back to the owner of the original work. It doesn’t necessarily have to meet quality goals, unfortunately.

In this case, Jordan sold the rights back in 2004 to Red Eagle Entertainment to produce some films (although there were likely other options – reportedly some games were tried as well), with those rights apparently set to expire on February 11th, 2015 – today – if some goal wasn’t met. And getting a pilot on TV is ( or is at least believed to be) a goal.
(continue reading…)


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