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EXCLUSIVE: The hot package that has several networks salivating is a series that Oscar-winning screenwriter Steve Zaillian will write and direct that focuses on Tom Ripley, the sociopath anti-hero of the Patricia Highsmith crime novel series. Sources said that this will go in a straight-to-series deal and that Zaillian is expected to write and direct most of the first season’s worth of episodes. It will be the first major series for Zaillian since the acclaimed HBO mini The Night Of.
Zaillian will use the five novels written by Highsmith — The Talented Mrs. Ripley, Ripley Under Ground, Ripley’s Game, The Boy Who Followed Ripley and Ripley Underwater — as a road map to show Ripley’s progression from con artist to serial killer. The series will be produced by Endemol Shine North America, with Sharon Levy overseeing. The series will be executive produced by Zaillian, Garrett Basch, Philipp Keel, Guymon Casady and Ben Forkner. Keel is the head of Highsmith’s longtime publisher, Diogenes, in Zurich.
Highsmith’s novels have been turned into movies several times, with Matt Damon, Alain Delon, Dennis Hopper, Barry Pepper and John Malkovich all portraying Ripley over the years. WME is shopping it. Stay tuned.