February 11, 2019
TNT Executive Explains ‘Snowpiercer’ Showrunner Shuffle [TCA 2019]
One year ago, TNT ordered a series based on Snowpiercer, the French comic that was adapted into a movie by director Bong Joon-ho. Doctor Strange filmmaker Scott Derrickson directed the pilot and Avatar 2 writer Josh Friedman signed on to run the show, but just weeks later, both Derrickson and Friedman were out. Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson is now running Snowpiercer.
TNT president Kevin Reilly gave an executive session for the Television Critics Association and /Film was able to ask him to provide insight into the Snowpiercer showrunner change.
“Quite often when you have a change, it signals that you didn’t necessarily buy into a vision,” Reilly explained. “We had a pilot that was really promising with some really creative people behind it. In that case, they were really a filmmaker who had not done television before. Mounting a series was a different order. Graeme has built off of the template we have with the great cast.”
That answers why Derrickson left – the filmmaker has previously said he believed in the version he directed and explained that he didn’t accept his option to direct reshoots of the pilot. (He was eventually replaced by Doctor Who director James Hawes.)
Friedman had experience running a television show, having created Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles several years ago. He took to Twitter to clap back at Manson, who never contacted Friedman after taking over his job. Friedman continued to tweet about his vision for Snowpiercer, which he didn’t want to compromise by implementing the network’s notes. “I didn’t ‘exit’ over creative differences,” he explained in a tweet. “TNT insisted that I be removed from show running duties because they didn’t think I’d be [compliant]. Hopefully they found someone more to their liking.”
Snowpiercer is set on a speeding train that is the last hospitable environment on a post-apocalyptic, frozen Earth. The train becomes a caste system with the poor relegated to the rear while the wealthy enjoy luxuries in the frontmost cars. Children of the poor also get periodically kidnapped to keep the train running.
The movie was released in 2014 and starred Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, and Ed Harris. Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs, Sheila Vand and more star as different characters on the TNT incarnation of Snowpiercer.
Snowpiercer was on early schedules for Turner’s February TCA presentations, but there was ultimately no panel on Monday and we still have not seen any footage from the show. That alone does not spell problems – it’s still months away from airing – but Reilly acknowledged this, and confirmed the show is ready.
“We were supposed to have it up here today,” Reilly said. “We’ve seen all the episodes. It’s outstanding. We’re just playing with the timing of when that premieres.”
Snowpiercer will premiere on TNT this summer.
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