EXCLUSIVE: Frederik Pohl’s Gateway may finally get a screen adaptation. Entertainment One Television (Hell On Wheels) has teamed with De Laurentiis Co. (Hannibal) to develop and produce a drama series adaptation of Pohl’s sci-fi classic. The two companies landed the rights to the 1977 book in a competitive situation, with a number of producers pursuing. The project will be executive produced by De Laurentiis Co’s Martha De Laurentiis and Lorenzo De Maio along with eOne’s John Morayniss, CEO eOne TV; Michael Rosenberg, EVP U.S. Scripted TV; and Benedict Carver, SVP Filmed Entertainment. Search is underway for a writer to write the adaptation, with a number of established showrunners already interested because of Gateway‘s cult status. eOne TV will handle worldwide distribution. De Laurentiis Co., which has a history in screen adaptations of sci-fi classics — most notably the 1984 feature Dune – had been tracking Gateway for years as the book had gone through a number of incarnations, including being developed as a feature. When rights recently became available, De Laurentiis and De Maio went aggressively after it, partnering with eOne, a company they had been looking to collaborate with for the past three years. From the get go, the duo knew they wanted to do the adaptation as a series, not a feature. “Television gives us the opportunity of exploring the rich world of the novel and the complexity of its characters,” De Laurentiis said. Gateway actually started in a serialized format, running in sci-fi magazine Galaxy before its hardcover publication.
Gateway is set on a space station constructed by a long-vanished alien race that now is now inhabited by humans. It centers on Robinette “Rob” Broadhead, who, haunted by a dark love story, has traveled on a one-way ticket from Earth for the extremely dangerous mission of piloting one of thousands of abandoned alien spacecrafts on Gateway. The technology of these alien ships is not fully understood, with most trips resulting in death. The reward for a rare successful return, however, can be untold riches, so crews continue to sign up despite the desperate odds. “It is an absolute, complete, desperate gamble with very high stakes that attracts all those desperate people to a border town,” said De Maio, who noted how contemporary Gateway feels despite being written four decades ago as it tackles such concepts as mining asteroids.
Gateway has won a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award, a Locus Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Pohl, who died last fall at age 93, wrote more than 40 novels and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1998. Gateway and the Pohl estate are repped by Holly Frederick at Curtis Brown.
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