CBS All Access has ordered a TV adaptation of “The Man Who Fell to Earth” from Alex Kurtzman, based on Walter Tevis’ novel and the 1976 film that starred David Bowie.
Kurtzman and “Star Trek: Discovery” vet Jenny Lumet will both write and serve as showrunners, with Kurtzman directing. The project is a co-production between CBS TV Studios, where Kurtzman has an overall deal, and Tandem Productions, a division of StudioCanal, who owns the rights to both the book and the film.
According to CBS All Access, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” will follow an alien who arrives on Earth at a turning point in human evolution and must confront his own past to determine our future. Bowie starred as the alien Thomas Jerome Newton in the Nicolas Roeg-directed film; it was Bowie’s first starring film role. Both the film and the book sees Newton introduce technology that ends up changing mankind, and it’s that idea that Kurtzman said drew him to the project.
“It also allows us to really explore where we are at this insane intersection between our humanity and our technology, and they seem to be merging more and more these days,” he told TheWrap. “All the great sci-fi ends up predicting the future, if you look at all the things that really lasted, and Walter Tevis did that.”
Kurtzman said this will not be a direct remake, likening it more to a sequel. For example, the alien will not be Thomas Jerome Newton. “It’s a new alien, a new character, a whole new situation, but it definitely holds true to the spirit of what Tevis was doing in the novel.”
Added Lumet: “Both the novel and the movie are very much a slice. They were a moment on a timeline. And here is the next moment in the timeline.”
Along with co-showrunning “Star Trek: Discovery,” Kurtzman is in charge of CBS All Access’ burgeoning “Star Trek” universe that includes the upcoming “Star Trek: Picard” and animated “Lower Decks.” He said that “The Man Who Fell to Earth” does not mean that he’s taking a step back from his “Trek” duties.
“The intention is to finish off this season of ‘Discovery’ and then go into production on ‘Man.’ I’m not overlapping too much there,” he said. “We’re very ahead of schedule because I think we saw this coming down the pike and we needed to get there in a way that was comfortable for both shows.”
For “Man Who Fell to Earth,” Rola Bauer, Tim Halkin, Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly and Heather Kadin will also serve as executive producers and Aaron Baiers will serve as co-executive producer.