Dec 7, 2010

Tradecraft: Ludlum-Based Treadstone TV Show Still Happening?

In a report today about other shows that CSI creator Anthony Zuiker has recently sold, Deadline mentions Treadstone as if it's still happening, despite their own earlier report that the Robert Ludlum-based spy drama was now on the back burner at CBS.  Treadstone was first reported as a series focusing on "the Treadstone Project" (which, by the way, would make a considerably Ludlumier title for the series, if the producers want to stay on-brand), the CIA project in Robert Ludlum's novels and the films based on them responsible for the creation of Jason Bourne and other covert assassins. So which report is accurate?  While it seems completely feasible that Captivate Entertainment, the company which controls the rights to Ludlum's properties, would want to back-burner a TV series in favor of their own Tony Gilroy-directed Bourne spin-off filmThe Bourne Legacy, which sounds like it deals with the same subject.  Yet Deadline's Nellie Andreeva apparently even has a new quote from Zuiker on the show, which certainly makes it sound like the project is very much active in his mind, anyway. "We are fascinated by the concept of the citizen spy who lives among us every day," the showrunner told the trade blog.  While I, too (and presumably most readers of this blog) am fascinated by that subject, that doesen't sound exactly like the Treadstone we know from the Bourne movies, which amounts to an evil factory turning special forces soldiers into covert government killers–a far cry from "citizen spies."  Indeed, the log line that Deadline offers today seems slightly different from the initial concept we heard about.  According to the trade blog today, Treadstone "centers on the workings of the Robert Ludlum-created fictional division of the CIA and chronicles how real spies live and operate in today’s world."  Again stressing a focus on "real spies" and "living," which aren't really the concern of the Bourne films.  Perhaps this project will draw more on Ludlum's novels, in which the Treadstone organization was not evil?  Yet that would be odd, too, presenting two completely different and conflicting takes on the same literary material in two different mediums.  Hm.  Well, it will be interesting to see where this goes.  Personally, I think I'm a bit more interested in the potential TV show than in a Matt Damon-less and more importantly Bourne-less movie continuation.

Variety sheds a little more light on the subject, but not much.  The most important takeaway from the trade's story is that it seems to echo the tone of the Deadline piece, suggesting that this project is definitely moving forward in development.  It also reiterates that the pilot script is being written by John Glenn (Eagle Eye John Glenn, not James Bond John Glen), and executive produced by Glen, Zuiker, Ben Smith and Captivate's Jeffrey Weiner.  According to Variety, "Zuiker had been looking to do a spy project for some time but hadn't found the right framework until the Ludlum concept pointed in the direction of 'citizen spies' who hold down everyday jobs and blend in with their communities. The sensational bust last June of ten alleged Russian spies who were living nondescript lives in the U.S. added heat to the project at CBS."  I really don't see that "citizen spy" aspect coming from Ludlum's material, but that definitely sounds like the direction they're taking the show...

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