J. Michael Straczynski has had his ups (Babylon 5, Clint Eastwood’s The Changeling) and downs (Captain Power and all post B5 spin-offs) in Hollywood, but it looks like JMS is on an upswing again with not one, but two TV projects in the works with some of Hollywood’s top-tier talent.
First off, Straczynski is teaming up with the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, as well as Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment partner James Lassiter, to create a series called Epidemic, which, from the sounds of it, is about some kind of viral outbreak. Maybe Joe hasn’t gotten Crusade out of his system and is looking to tell another character-driven drama about trying to cure a deadly plague.
But the most compelling project on the plate is called Vlad Dracula. Guess what it’s about! If you said a historical-horror blending of the literary Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker and his real-life inspiration, medieval monarch Vlad the Impaler, then you’d be correct.
If you’re not hooked yet, Straczynski will be doing the series for Starz and working with the Spartacus team of Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Steven S. DeKnight. Roy Lee (The Ring, The Woman in Black) will also be involved in the production.
Here’s what DeKnight says of the project:
“The project is a unique spin of the classic tale, blending the historical facts of the 15th century Prince of Wallachia, with the fictional Dracula whose story is known around the world and continues to fascinate audiences. “Vlad Dracula” traces his evolution from a revered ruler to the world’s most feared vampire, and his slow downfall as he struggles desperately to hang on to his humanity, his wife and his kingdom.”
Speaking of DeKnight, he seems to be doing his best to put Spartacus in the rearview after the recently announced cancellation of the sex and swords series. DeKnight is also at work on an epic space war drama called Incursion, which the writer describes thusly:
“Incursion, an epic science fiction action-thriller that follows a squad of soldiers caught in a war against a hostile alien race. Each season the battle will be fought on a new, exotic planet as humanity punches deeper into enemy territory. Grittily realistic combat, darkly complex characters and intrigue on a cosmic scale will permeate the tale of fighting men and women facing the pressures of war and an enemy unlike any ever seen.”
Sounds interesting. We all know TV is bereft of a good space drama so maybe DeKnight can fill the void. As for Vlad, I think we can all agree that a vampire series that has more in common with Spartacus than Twilight can be nothing but a good thing.