EXCLUSIVE: The new WGN America is barely 8 months old, but it already has ordered two original scripted series — Salem and Manhattan — and has made a major off-network acquisition with Person Of Interest. Now the scripted newcomer is adding an ambitious event series to its programming roster. I’ve learned that WGN has teamed with the Weinstein Company for a Ten Commandments 10-part event series, which is being executive produced by Oscar-winning producer Bruce Cohen (Silver Linings Playbook, American Beauty). I hear the plan is for each episode to be helmed by a different A-list director, focusing on one commandment and its evolving significance. I hear the project is eying a March start. This would be one of Hollywood’s highest-profile takes on one of the most studied and sacred texts in Christianity and Judaism since the 1956 movie directed by Cecil B. DeMille starring Charlton Heston as Moses. With its structure, the event series is reminiscent of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s acclaimed 1989 Polish 10-part series Decalogue, where each part also focused on one commandment. The Ten Commandments, or the Decalogue, feature a set of biblical principles delivered by God to Moses that include prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, theft, dishonesty, and adultery. On the comedy side, the commandments were famously tackled by Mel Brooks in History of The World, as well as by the 2007 movie The Ten.
Religion-themed programming is red-hot right now on the heels of the blockbuster success of History’s The Bible miniseries. A Bible sequel is in the works at NBC and National Geographic Channel has Killing Jesus coming up.
On the TV side, the Weinstein Co. has the Project Runway franchise, which was recently expanded with another series, Under The Gunn, and has been in negotiations with Netflix for a Marco Polo scripted series.
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.