J.J. Abrams is expanding his relationship with HBO.
After a bidding war with Apple, the premium cable network has landed the first TV series that the prolific producer has written since 2008’s Fringe. HBO has handed out a straight-to-series order for Demimonde, expanding its relationship with Westworld executive producer Abrams. An episode count has not yet been determined.
Shopped as a spec script, sources say the Abrams drama is about a family — consisting of a mother who works as a scientist, her husband and their young daughter — who all get into a terrible car crash. After the mother winds up in a coma, her daughter begins digging through her experiments in the basement and winds up being transported to another world amid a battle against a monstrous, oppressive force. Her father then follows her into this new world. HBO is only describing the series as “an epic and intimate sci-fi fantasy drama.”
Sources note that Abrams was impressed with what the premium cable network did with Westworld, making HBO the frontrunner for the series over deep-pocketed rival Apple.
Abrams, who created/co-created Felicity, Alias, Lost and Fringe, penned the script and exec produces via his Warner Bros. Television-based Bad Robot Productions banner topper Ben Stephenson. In addition to exec producing Westworld, Abrams and Bad Robot also serve in the same capacity on Lovecraft Country, a straight-to-series anthological horror drama from Jordan Peele and Misha Green.
Abrams has been active in the TV space as an executive producer, most recently working on HBO’s Westworld (with Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy), Showtime’s Roadies (with Cameron Crowe), CBS’ Person of Interest (with Nolan) and Hulu mini 11.22.63 (with Bridget Carpenter). He next has Hulu’s Stephen King anthology Castle Rock, from writers Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomas, due from Warner Bros. Television. On the feature side, Abrams is next writing and directing Star Wars: Episode IX, and counts the Cloverfield and Star Trek franchises among his credits. He is repped by CAA and Jackoway Tyerman.
For HBO, Abrams’ Demimonde joins a drama slate that also includes Westworld, Game of Thrones’ final season, Big Little Lies, True Detective, The Deuce, the upcoming debut of Sharp Objects, Succession and Alan Ball’s Here and Now, among others.
The Abrams addition comes as HBO is plotting out its future sans Game of Thrones, with the abbreviated final season to air in 2019. The cable network is developing five potential prequel series, with programming president Casey Bloys adamant about not launching any potential Game of Thrones offshoot until at least a year after the flagship ends. That would pave the way for a high-concept genre drama like Demimonde. Apple, which also aggressively pursued the project, already picked up a space drama from Ron Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander). Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that HBO was always considered the frontrunner to land the Abrams series given the cabler’s relationship with the writer-producer.