“The Hot Zone”, Richard Preston’s Ebola virus-themed 1994 best-seller, will score a limited TV series adaptation with the help of Producer Lynda Obst and director-producer Ridley Scott.
A sensation upon its release, the non-fiction thriller deals primarily with the history of the virus including an outbreak of Marburg virus in a Nairobi hospital. It also deals with the outbreak of a form of Ebola in a monkey house in Virginia.
Obst and Scott optioned “The Hot Zone” two decades ago and for the past year have been working on adapting the property with Preston’s help. The pair have also hired “I, Robot” scribe Jeff Vintar to adapt the script.
The project has taken on a new urgency though as the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, which has ravaged several countries and could potentially spread beyond the region. Preston is writing a piece for next week’s New Yorker magazine which chronicles the current outbreak, both Obst and Scott are in conversations to option that article as well.
The plan is for “The Hot Zone” TV series to chronicle the history of the disease including the monkey house incident along with the recent outbreak. Scott would potentially direct at least the first episode and will executive produce alongside Obst, David Zucker and Jim Hart.
The aforementioned Jim Hart has a connection to the project. Hart penned “Crisis in the Hot Zone,” an attempt in the early 1990s by 20th Century Fox to adapt the book to the big screen with the likes of Jodie Foster and Meryl Streep linked at the time.
Ultimately that version never came to fruition, though a rival project named “Outbreak” did make it to release and starred Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo.
The Scott project will be taken out to networks once the script is adjusted to include recent events.