Aug 17, 2018

Tradecraft: Bourne Spinoff TV Series TREADSTONE Gets Series Order from USA

USA has given a straight to series pickup to the TV show spun off from the Bourne films, Treadstone, Deadline reports. (This move comes hot on the heels of cancelling another TV series based on a movie based on a popular novel about an assassin, Shooter.) The cable network will bypass a pilot (first announced in April) and go directly to a series in part because of an international deal with Amazon Prime, the trade speculates. In Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity (review here), Treadstone 71 was the shadowy intelligence group that David Webb worked for (based out of a New York brownstone), with whom he created and assumed his more famous identity as assassin Jason Bourne. Nebulous and illegal though it may have been, in the book Treadstone's motivations were basically heroic. The Treadstone of the movies, which creates super-assassins through brainwashing and later drugs, is a much more sinister organization. It was also, I believe, officially shut down by Brian Cox's character, Abbott, in The Bourne Supremacy, and then reconstituted as Outcome by Ed Norton's character in The Bourne Legacy (review here). According to the trade, "Treadstone explores the origin story and present-day actions of a CIA black ops program known as Operation Treadstone — a covert program that uses behavior-modification protocol to turn recruits into nearly superhuman assassins. The first season follows sleeper agents across the globe as they’re mysteriously 'awakened' to resume their deadly missions." Assuming the series takes place in the movie universe (which seems likely), then it would make sense for the present-day segments to feature a reactivated Treadstone under new leadership, and the origin sequences to serve as a prequel to the films set in the late 90s or early 2000s. (These parts could even, theoretically, feature a younger Jason Bourne.)

This incarnation of Treadstone was created and written by Heroes showrunner Tim Kring. Keepers of the Ludlum flame Captivate Entertainment are also involved, of course, with Ben Smith and Jeffrey Weiner executive producing on their behalf. (The same role they fill on the Bourne films.) Ramin Bahrani (Fahrenheit 451, 99 Homes) will direct the first episode. I say "this incarnation," because this is not the first attempt to bring Treadstone to television. Back in 2010, CSI creator Anthony Zuiker attempted a Treadstone show for CBS. But when Tony Gilroy came aboard to direct the theatrical spinoff The Bourne Legacy, he didn't want a competing version of the mythology on TV, and made it a condition of his directing that the nascent show be killed.

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