How ‘Manhunt: Deadly Games’ Was Reworked for Spectrum Originals

TCA 2020: Anthology drama moved over to cable company from Discovery for its second season

“Manhunt” comes back for its second season next month on a new network, having moved over from Discovery Channel to Spectrum Originals for its follow up story, subtitled “Deadly Games,” about the hunt for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics bomber.

Spectrum’s head of originals Katherine Pope spoke to TheWrap on Saturday about the process of reworking the series for its new home, which included adding two extra episodes. “They had written the first episode script and I had seen the [first season], which I thought was really really good. It was a little more straight-ahead than we wanted,” she said during a conversation at the Television Critics Association press tour. “They wanted it to be a little more popcorn.”

She said the biggest difference between the Discovery-led season and their version is that they gave the producers more leeway to tell the characters’ story. “We go home with Kathy Scruggs to where she came from,” she said. “There’s lots of life as opposed to just plot.”

Andrew Sodroski, the show’s creator, also spoke about the move from Discovery, where they only had the outline for the seconds season.

“We knew what we wanted to do for our next story in the franchise. When Discovery decided to get out of scripted programming Lionsgate really believed in this project and took it over,” he said during the show’s panel here in Pasadena. “What was really exciting about Spectrum was that it was a place where we could take the sort of skeleton of what we had developed at Discovery and take that basic story but really flesh it out and make it more dramatic and more character-centric than Discovery was going to allow us to do.”

And Pope said they’ve already “started talking” about what a third season would look like. “We felt that we really lucked out.”

“Manhunt: Deadly Game” premieres Feb. 3 and stars Cameron Britton as Richard Jewell, the wrongfully accused suspect in the bombing, as well as Jack Huston as the real Atlanta bomber Eric Rudolph. It will come out just a few months after Clint Eastwood’s film version of the story, “Richard Jewell,” which focused more exclusively on Jewell.

Pope said she isn’t worried about fatigue from this story, with the movie coming out so close to their version. “If the movie’s great, it’s good for us. If the movie is bad, it doesn’t matter.”

She added that, though Jewell is one of the main focal points of the story, “you do the entire event and Richard Jewell a disservice” if you only focus on him and not the actual bomber or the search for him.

“People from three very different points of view worked together. It happened. So when you just stop at Richard Jewell it’s like, ‘Oh it didn’t work at all, the institutions they are all broken. No, they actually worked,” she said. “That was why we wanted to focus on the whole story and on Eric Rudolph, who was the actual bomber.”

Tim Baysinger

Tim Baysinger

TV Reporter • tim.baysinger@thewrap.com • Twitter: @tim_bays



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