Paramount TV To Produce 1800s-Set Serial Killer Series ‘The Alienist’

By May 27, 2014
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The newly-invigorated Paramount TV just signed their very first “first-look” deal with Steve Golin and Michael Sugar’s production company Anonymous Content (executive producers of HBO’s “True Detective”) for three years, where they’ll be able to get first dibs to produce/distribute any of AC’s scripted television programming for broadcast, premium and basic cable and online distribution.

And Deadline reports that right out of the gate, Paramount TV and AC have already announced their first project: a TV series based on Caleb Carr’s 1994 hit novel, The Alienist. According to Amazon, the story goes a little something like this:

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The year is 1896, the place, New York City. On a cold March night New York Times reporter John Schuyler Moore is summoned to the East River by his friend and former Harvard classmate Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a psychologist, or “alienist.” On the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge, they view the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent boy, a prostitute from one of Manhattan’s infamous brothels.

The newly appointed police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt, in a highly unorthodox move, enlists the two men in the murder investigation, counting on the reserved Kreizler’s intellect and Moore’s knowledge of New York’s vast criminal underworld. They are joined by Sara Howard, a brave and determined woman who works as a secretary in the police department. Laboring in secret (for alienists, and the emerging discipline of psychology, are viewed by the public with skepticism at best), the unlikely team embarks on what is a revolutionary effort in criminology– amassing a psychological profile of the man they’re looking for based on the details of his crimes. Their dangerous quest takes them into the tortured past and twisted mind of a murderer who has killed before, and will kill again before the hunt is over.

Fast-paced and gripping, infused with a historian’s exactitude, The Alienist conjures up the Gilded Age and its untarnished underside: verminous tenements and opulent mansions, corrupt cops and flamboyant gangsters, shining opera houses and seamy gin mills. Here is a New York during an age when questioning society’s belief that all killers are born, not made, could have unexpected and mortal consequences.

Period pieces seem to be all the rage these days with “American Horror Story” constantly changing its year and setting with each season, as well as newbies like “Penny Dreadful” and “Salem” making their mark, too. “The Alienist” sounds like Jack The Ripper meets “Boardwalk Empire” and I must say, I’m intrigued.

Paramount TV came to life last summer with Amy Powell in place as president and this year they got their first greenlit project – a three hour Grease Live musical event headed for FOX in 2015 – as well as taking two of their big screen hits (The Truman Show and Narc) and developing them into TV series.

The gang at Anonymous Content are busy, busy bees with upcoming projects including “The Knick,” a new series for Cinemax directed by Steven Soderburgh and stars Clive Owen, and films like Triple Nine and The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

What do you think about all this? All I know is I’ve just added The Alienist to MY summer reading list!

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Cricket Lee
Star Wars fangirl. Named Best Kisser by Time Magazine. CEO/Host: Girl Gamer; host of Gecken: GeekNation; writer: Dread Central. You'll have a crush on me soon. Vote Quimby. Twitter: @crixlee http://www.imdb.me/crixlee
  • This actually sounds pretty badass. I’m in.