Back in 1994, Richard Preston wrote a terrifying thriller called The Hot Zone. It’s a book about viruses that are dangerous to humanity namely because we haven’t figured out how to cure or treat those diseases yet. Now Ridley Scott wants to make a TV series based on the book, which is timely considering one of the big diseases discussed in The Hot Zone is the Ebola Virus.
The Hot Zone follows a slew of different situations related to infectious diseases, including the Ebola Virus, which the plot synopsis notes kills "9 out of 10 of its victims” extremely quickly. If you’ve read the book, you know that Ebola is at the heart of the story, but that other viruses, including Marburg Virus and Sudan Virus, are encountered by characters in Africa and even in quarantined locations in the United States. If The Hot Zone does get picked up by a network, Scott and company are envisioning it as a limited event series.
Helix producer Lynda Obst and Ridley Scott are set to executive produce the project along with Fox TV Studios. Additionally, I, Robot writer Jeff Vintar is signed on to adapt the book for the small screen. Richard Preston will be involved with the project, albeit in a consulting capacity.
EW is reporting that The Hot Zone project has been in the works for over a year, although the rights were bought by Scott and Obst much longer ago, with the project initially being pitched as a feature film prospect. Thus, it wasn’t initially conceived as a TV project just to capitalize on the Ebola awareness that is currently happening across the United States as new cases are reported. However, the timing for the project is both perfect and perfectly awful. If it moves forward, more people will already understand and be interested in what Ebola is and how it affects those who come down with the disease. However, it might also inspire a level of fear and panic that is counterproductive, as well.
Whatever my personal feelings about scary Ebola TV shows may be, horror on television is a hot property right now. Lifetime has the Stephen King tale Big Driver on this Saturday and FX has already started airing its new season of American Horror Story: Freak Show. In fact, Obst is probably the perfect person to produce The Hot Zone, as she has also been involved with Helix, another show that has dealt with the concept of deadly viruses and how viruses affect humans. Horror and thrillers are becoming increasingly popular, and there’s still plenty of space for new projects.
It’s early in the game and there are still a lot of i’s that need to be dotted and t’s that need to be crossed before The Hot Zone officially gets picked up, but we will be sure to let you know if the project moves forward.