November 15, 2013
Bleeding Cool has learned exclusively that a development order for a television pilot based upon Garth Ennis’ and Steve Dillon‘s ballbustingly blasphemous comic series from the nineties, Preacher, has been given by Sony Pictures Television studio.
The project is the studio’s next major endeavour, following its recently completed Breaking Bad series after its newly launched broadcast series The Blacklist starring James Spader. Bleeding Cool has also learned that while AMC Network has obtained the North American broadcast rights to Preacher, the network is not in control of its development as has been recently erroneously reported.
The television pitch has been developed for Sony Pictures Television by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Breaking Bad series writer Sam Caitlin through producer Neal Moritz’ Original Pictures.
Garth Ennis is reported to be particularly pleased about these developments, since it seemed that a television series possibility was all but dead after an initial failed effort at HBO.
Moreover, Ennis reportedly believes that it is Rogen and Goldberg who have finally captured the tone which Preacher would need in order to be true to the essence of the now legendary DC/Vertigo comic series. Ennis is expected to be an active consultant if the series moves forward.
Preacher has had a long history of high profile efforts to be realized on screen, including at HBO (under current Starz Media CEO Chris Albrecht, who departed HBO before a pilot was completed), and as a Sony feature to be directed by Sam Mendes (who, after a John August screenplay, departed the project to direct the James Bond film Skyfall). Mendes recently reiterated his admiration for the Preacher coda and acknowledged that he had been unable to crack how to bring it to the big screen. In fact Mendes noted that in all likelihood, Preacher would be best suited for episodic television.
As the book series languished under option to Sony Features with no real direction after the Sam Mendes departure (director D.J. Caruso was later brought in but no new feature writer was ever engaged), producer Neal Moritz and Vivian Cannon, head of Moritz’ Original Pictures’ Television, got Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg on board to take their vision for a television series out before the Sony option window closed.
Only a handful of networks were allowed to participate, and AMC triumphed after spirited bidding just before the deadline. The result is a stunning achievement for one of the great comic properties which appeared mired in a feature film development hell, never to see light of day. The chance at a Preacher television series also marks another extraordinary success for Ken F. Levin, whose multiplatforms in entertainment include as film and television producer (The Amazing Screw-On Head; The Scribbler; Quarry); as co-founder and current creative director of the relaunched publisher 1First Comics; and as Mr. Ennis’ long time representative.
Sources tell us it was Levin who conceived of and implemented the strategy to get the project moved over to Sony’s Television studios and to have Rogen and Goldberg take the project out on a rush basis before Sony’s option lapsed. (Ken Levin was named on last year Top 100 Power List by Bleeding Cool Magazine, listing the most powerful people in comics, and is one of the few who operates in both the business and the creative sides of the industry).
For Ennis, the commitment by Sony Television marks an opportunity to spotlight attention on one of his earliest exceptional creations. Ennis has since followed up with The Boys (currently at Paramount Features), Crossed, 303, Wormwood Chronicles and Stitched with Bleeding Cool owners Avatar, and with his current ongoing comic series Red Team from Dynamite and Red Rover on its way from Avatar.