WGN Greenlights Pilots for Scalped and Roadside Picnic

Posted by at 11:13 am on March 9, 2016

Scalped CoverWGN America, fresh off canceling critical darling Manhattan, has picked up two new drama pilots, including a DC Comics adaptation. Ordered to pilot are DC’s Scalped, with Geoff Johns attached, and Roadside Picnic, based on the novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.

Scalped is described as a modern-day crime story set in the world of a Native American Indian reservation. It explores power, loyalty and spirituality in a community led by the ambitious chief Lincoln Red Crow as he reckons with Dashiell Bad Horse, who has returned home after years away from the reservation.

Banshee’s Doug Jung will pen the script and executive produce the DC Comics series originally written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by R.M. Guéra. DC Entertainment creative director Johns is attached to exec produce the drama, which hails from Warner Horizon Television. Insiders say WGN America is eyeing an all Native American cast.

The 60-issue monthly comic was first published by DC imprint Vertigo in 2007 and was partly inspired by the 1975 arrest of Native American activist Leonard Peltier. Peltier was arrested for the slaying of two FBI agents in a reservation shootout.

This marks the latest DC Comics take on the small screen and, should the pilot move to series, would join Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and Gotham. It’s also the latest pilot in the works for DC and joins NBC comedy Powerless, starring Vanessa Hudgens.

Roadside Picnic, meanwhile, explores a near-future world where aliens have come and gone, leaving humankind to explore the wondrous and dangerous mysteries left behind as well as the societal ramifications of their visit, as seen through the eyes of Red, a veteran “stalker” who has made it his life to illegally venture into the once-inhabited zone and scavenge the abandoned remains of the alien culture.

Alien: Covenant’s Jack Paglen will pen the script and exec produce alongside Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones, Mad Men), with the latter set to direct the pilot. The project is produced by Sony Pictures Television and studio-based Original Film. Original Film’s Vivian Cannon and Neil Moritz are also on board to exec produce.

Roadside Picnic was first published in 1971 and has been published in more than 20 countries. The novel was the inspiration behind the 1979 feature Stalker.

For WGN America, the two pilots come as the cable network is looking to lure eyeballs in a crowded landscape with big studio buys. Should either or both move to series, they would join a roster that also includes Salem, the cabler’s first original scripted drama, as well as recently launched Outsiders and the upcoming Underground. Also in the works is a 10 Commandments miniseries.

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