Earlier we reported that Hollywood director Sam Mendes ('American Beauty,' 'Revolutionary Road') and Hollywood screenwriter John Logan ('Gladiator,' 'Skyfall') were teaming up to produce the first television series in either of their careers. Now, Showtime has released a press release that makes the series official: it's entitled 'Penny Dreadful.'
Here is Showtime's press release:
Some of literature's most iconic figures will step into the light on SHOWTIME in PENNY DREADFUL, a psychosexual horror series created, written and executive produced by three-time Oscar(R) nominee John Logan (Hugo, The Aviator, Gladiator) and executive produced by Oscar winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) and Neal Street's Pippa Harris (Revolutionary Road, Call The Midwife), it was announced today by David Nevins, President of Entertainment, Showtime Networks. PENNY DREADFUL will begin production in London in the second half of 2013.
In PENNY DREADFUL, some of literature's most famously terrifying characters - including Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, Dorian Gray and iconic figures from the novel Dracula - become embroiled in Victorian London. The series weaves together these classic horror origin stories as the characters grapple with their monstrous alienation. This project marks Logan and Mendes' second major collaboration, following Skyfall, their recent critically-acclaimed and box office record-breaking James Bond film, which Mendes directed and Logan co-wrote; and their first ever collaboration for television. The project will be produced by Mendes' production company Neal Street Productions.
"John Logan and Sam Mendes are two of the great storytellers of our time," said Nevins. "The visual spectacle combined with the psychological insight in their reimagining of these iconic literary characters seems totally mesmerizing to me. This promises to be a wholly original television show."
When we first reported on this project, it was noted that Showtime had asked Logan to tweak his original spec in order to match Showtime's target audience; given that the word 'psychosexual' appears in the release above, it doesn't seem as though Logan was asked to bowdlerize his work very much at all.
The term "penny dreadful" referred to a form of cheap, serialised fiction in the mid-19th Century, when literacy in England began to become more common. Each short piece was printed cheaply on poor paper stock, costing the reader one (old) penny--hence the name: they cost a penny and were largely accepted to be dreadful tales. These stories were aimed at the working class and featured sensational tales of crime, horror, suspense, romance and intrigue.
If Mendes and Logan are hoping to bring these stylized genre pieces to the small screen, they have tapped a vein of historical literature that has remained untouched by modern media. Expect classic characters such as Sweeny Todd, The Highwayman and even Dr. Frankenstein himself to make an appearance.