Treadstone is the long in the works TV series derived from the Matt Damon Bourne films and based on the secret super assassin program originated in Robert Ludlum's novel The Bourne Identity (review here).
The project has been percolating in one form or another ever since 2010, when 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. The new incarnation comes from Heroes creator Tim Kring, who produces along with Captivate Entertainment's Ben Smith. Smith's fellow Keeper of the Ludlum flame at Captivate, Jeffrey Weiner, executive produces (as he does on the Bourne films) along with Ramin Bahrani, among others. Acclaimed Iranian-American helmer Bahrani directs the pilot. Bahrani has directed such indie features as 99 Homes and Chop Shop, the latter of which late film critic Roger Ebert famously anointed the sixth best film of the 2000s. More recently Bahrani directed HBO's Fahrenheit 451, with Michael B. Jordan and Sophie Boutella.
Seasoned spy veteran Michelle Forbes (Berlin Station, 24) leads the cast in what sounds like a role similar to Joan Allen's in the movies as "Ellen Becker, a savvy CIA veteran trying to balance the demands of work and family while investigating a conspiracy with international implications." Patrick Fugit (First Man), Michael Gaston, (Jack Ryan) Shruti Haasan (a Bollywood star), Brian J. Smith (Sense8), Tess Haubrich (Alien: Covenant), Jeremy Irvine, Omar Metwally, Tracy Ifeachor, Hyo Joo Han, Gabrielle Scharnitzky and Emilia Schüle also star.
It's clear that Kring's Treadstone takes some liberties with the versions previously established in both the books and the films, making all of the programs' assets virtual amnesiacs, in that they have been brainwashed not to realize that they are sleeper agents until the moment they are awakened. While this does somewhat undermine Bourne's own special circumstances, it also feels like a clever way to really cash in on the brand and give audiences an experience similar to what they've seen in the movies.
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). It will be interesting to see if the TV series mentions Outcome at all, and how closely it sticks to the mythology established in the movies.
Treadstone is not only keeping alive on the small screen, but also in print. Earlier this year, the Ludlum estate has commissioned author Joshua Hood to pen the first book in a new Treadstone literary series, The Treadstone Resurrection, which will be in stores this fall—I assume about the same time the show premieres on USA.