Ridley Scott and Lynda Obst Developing Ebola TV Series at Fox

     October 17, 2014


As though Ebola isn’t in the headlines enough, now Ridley Scott and Lynda Obst are giving the disease its own TV show.  It’s being reported that the pair is developing a limited TV series for Fox TV Studios based on the 1994 Richard Preston book, The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus.

Apparently the duo has had the rights to the book for two decades, but never let them lapse.  About a year ago, they quietly went to work on the project, hiring I, Robot scribe Jeff Vintar to pen the adaptation.  Hit the jump for more on Scott and Obst’s Ebola TV series.

ridley-scott-ebola-tv-seriesThe current Ebola outbreak has claimed more than 4,500 lives, including the very first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States.  Two nurses who treated that patient also contracted the disease, which apparently has a 50% fatality rate.  Via THR, here’s what Obst had to say about the threat:

“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.”

Preston’s got a new Ebola article covering the current situation in the works for the New Yorker, so Obst and Scott are gearing up to take the rights so that they can incorporate that piece into the series as well.  Once that’s done, they’ll take it out to networks.  Scott will serve as executive producer alongside Obst, David Zucker and Jim Hart, and he’s also considering directing the first episode, if not more, as well.

The original plan was to turn Preston’s work into a film starring Jodie Foster for 20th Century Fox, but clearly that never panned out.  Hart is actually the one who penned the screenplay for that iteration of the project, titled Crisis in the Hot Zone.  Here’s what Obst had to say about the limited series format:

“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.”

Here’s the Amazon description of the book the series is based on:

The bestselling landmark account of the first emergence of the Ebola virus. A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic “hot” virus. The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their “crashes” into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, The Hot Zone proves that truth really is scarier than fiction.