Nearly six months after he was fired as the executive producer of AMC's The Walking Dead, Frank Darabont is busy developing a new drama project — this time at rival TNT.
TNT has given a pilot order to L.A. Noir, which takes a look inside the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles cops and villains in the 1940s and 1950s, the heyday of L.A. noir and scandals (such as the Black Dahlia). Darabont will write and direct the pilot.
The project is based on the John Buntin book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City, which focuses on the battle between gangster Mickey Cohen and legendary L.A. police chief William Parker.
"Noir is a passion of mine, so I feel blessed to delve into a project that speaks in the hardboiled vernacular," Darabont says. "John Buntin's superb book, though non-fiction, is our touchstone and inspiration for the stories we'll be telling, weaving fiction throughout the facts, and facts throughout the fiction. The book provides elements that are irresistible, a big canvas with endless possibilities. The goal is to deliver on the tone that the title L.A. Noir promises: a smart, gritty, authentic, period noir drama."
Darabont would executive produce L.A. Noir along with longtime pal Mike De Luca (The Social Network), while Elliot Webb (Tall Time Tales) is also attached as an exec producer. It would mark the first TV project for Darabont since he left The Walking Dead in late July under mysterious circumstances. The exit coincided with reports that Dead was struggling with budget issues, but AMC executives opted not to elaborate beyond a statement thanking the director for his contributions to the show.
Darabont's name continued to appear in the credits throughout Season Two, but he was replaced as showrunner by Glen Mazzara. Darabont has also never publicly addressed his departure. Darabont's hefty features resume includes The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. De Luca's credits also include the recent feature Moneyball.
"The story of L.A. Noir is inspired by an incredibly dramatic period in the history of Los Angeles," says Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies. "This project is a sweeping tale of the battle for the soul of the city that was waged between the forces of the LAPD and the West Coast mob."
L.A. Noir joins a TNT development slate that also includes the medical drama pilot Chelsea General, from David E. Kelley and Sanjay Gupta; the Western pilot Gateway, starring Donal Logue, Keith Carradine and Anthony LaPaglia; and the drama pilot Scent of the Missing, starring Tricia Helfer, Summer Glau and Gerald McRaney.