Here you can find the latest information about the television drama series adaptation of The Alienist that was announced by Paramount Television and Anonymous Content in early 2014. To learn more about The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness plots, critical reception, and timelines, or to access quizzes, character lists, maps, information about key locations, and general history as it relates to the books, please use the side menu.
Taking The Alienist to the Screen
On June 25, 1993, Paramount Pictures in collaboration with Scott Rudin purchased the highly sought after film rights of The Alienist.1 However, the initial excitement of taking his first serious novel to Hollywood was short-lived for author Caleb Carr with several scripts that “diverged radically” from the novel being rejected early in development, resulting in the project stalling while still in pre-production.2 After years of uncertainty, the project was eventually shelved, and as late as 2013, Mr. Carr reported in a New York Times book club chat that things continued to look “bleak” for The Alienist ever making it to the screen, and was investigating options for taking the novel to the stage instead.3
A TV Drama Series Inspired by The Alienist is Announced
Also in 2013, Paramount Pictures relaunched their television production division, Paramount Television, after several years absence from the television production industry.4,5 After several months of searching for projects to take on, Deadline reported on April 9, 2014, that Paramount Television had decided to focus on developing a small but select number of new television shows as part of its relaunch including, “a drama series inspired by Caleb Carr’s best-selling novel, The Alienist, with Anonymous Content (True Detective) executive producing.” This announcement was accompanied by Paramount Television naming its new heads of comedy and drama development working under president Amy Powell.6
Talking to Variety in April of 2014 about these new developments, Amy Powell commented, “It’s not only all the great movies we’ve released over the years but all the books and the articles and the life rights we own, and the great screenplays that never made it to the screen. To be able to walk in here with a literal clean slate and (chairman) Brad (Grey’s) directive–it’s the best of all worlds.” She went on to say that the focus at Paramount Television will be on “quality not quantity” of projects.7 Talking about The Alienist in particular, The Guardian reported that Powell described the book as “an incredible piece of writing—when I was looking through our library, I thought this is something we have to do.”8
Following the initial announcement that The Alienist was slated for development as a television drama series, a three-year production deal between Paramount Television and Anonymous Content was announced by Amy Powell and the managing partners of Anonymous Content in May of 2014, with the first collaboration between the companies confirmed to be the drama series inspired by The Alienist. Although no further details have been released regarding the development of the drama series itself, Variety reported that the three-year production deal would provide Paramount Television with “first-look rights to produce and distribute scripted programming developed by Anonymous Content.” It would also include “rights to broadcast, premium cable, cable and online distribution.”9
The Filmmakers are Announced, and the Series Attracts a Network
Almost a year after the Paramount Television and Anonymous Content collaboration was announced, the filmmakers for the television series were named. Spearheaded by director and executive producer Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) and series writer and executive producer Hossein Amini (The Wings of the Dove), the team also included Steve Golin (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Eric Roth (Forrest Gump), and Rosalie Swedlin (Laggies) as executive producers.10 Soon after this, TNT made a series commitment to the adaptation, with Variety reporting that the network had made “a whopping $5 million-an-episode deal for the eight-part series,” although “the exact number of episodes [was] still to be determined.” 11 A few months later, Variety reported in an exclusive that author Caleb Carr would also be joining the filmmakers as a consulting producer, along with writers E. Max Frye (Band of Brothers), Gina Gionfriddo (Law & Order), and John Sayles (Bass Reeves) who would also be acting as consulting producers for the episodes they pen.12
In May of 2016, the Turner Upfront presentation for 2016-17 held in Madison Square Garden included a teaser trailer for the series. According to Deadline, the President of TBS and TNT and Chief Content Officer for Turner Entertainment, Kevin Reilly, promised that the TV series “will be marquee programming.” 13 Following the event, Michael Schneider, executive editor for Indiewire, reported via twitter that ten scripts for The Alienist are now finished and casting is underway.14
A New Director Comes on Board
In late 2016 a surprise announcement was made that Cary Fukunaga would not be directing the television series as had been previously reported.15 Instead, Jakob Verbruggen (The Fall, London Spy, House of Cards) will step in to direct the first two episodes, with the possibility for more. Although Cary Fukunaga will no longer be directing the series, Deadline reported that he has written all episodes of the series, and will be retaining a role as executive producer. It was also announced that filming had moved from New York to Budapest, and would commence in early 2017.15
As yet, no casting has been announced.
1. Dubner, Stephen J., “Serial Killing for Fun and Profit”, New York Magazine 4 April 1994. Link.
2. Natale, Richard, “Will ‘Angels,’ ‘Alienist’ Ever Fly?”, Los Angeles Times 22 October 1995. Link.
3. Big City Book Club, “Live Chat with Caleb Carr, Author of ‘The Alienist'”, The New York Times 16 January 2013. Link.
4. Lieberman, David, “Paramount to Return to TV Series Production”, Deadline 4 March 2013. Link.
5. Andreeva, Nellie, “Amy Powell Named President of Paramount Television”, Deadline 22 July 2013. Link.
6. Andreeva, Nellie, “Paramount TV Unveils First Development Slate That Includes Series Takes on ‘Narc’ & ‘Truman Show’, Firms Up Executive Team”, Deadline 9 April 2014. Link.
7. Littleton, Cynthia, “Paramount Television Sets Comedy, Drama Development Chiefs”, Variety 9 April 2014. Link.
8. Beaumont-Thomas, Ben, “Truman Show TV Series Being Planned”, The Guardian 10 April 2014. Link.
9. Stedman, Alex, “Paramount TV, ‘True Detective’ Producer Anonymous Content Ink First-Look Deal”, Variety 27 May 2014. Link.
10. Friedlander, Whitney, “Cary Fukunaga to Direct Series Based on Caleb Carr’s ‘The Alienist'”, Variety 14 April 2015. Link.
11. Littleton, Cynthia. “‘The Alienist’ Lands Big Bucks Series Order From TNT”, Variety 13 May 2015. Link.
12. Wagmeister, Elizabeth. “‘The Alienist’ Author Caleb Carr Boards TNT Series as Consulting Producer (EXCLUSIVE)”, Variety 21 July 2015. Link.
13. de Moraes, Lisa. “Turner Upfront Presentation 2016 Live Blog”, Deadline 18 May 2016. Link.
14. Schneider, Michael. “Turner shows teaser for Cary Joji Fukunaga’s #TheAlienist”, Twitter 19 May 2016. Link.
15. Andreeva, Nellie, “‘The Alienist’: Jakob Verbruggen To Direct TNT Series As Cary Fukunaga Pulls Out But Remains EP”, Deadline 22 September 2016. Link.