Ridley Scott And Fox TV Are Developing An Ebola Series Based On ‘The Hot Zone’

Senior Writer
10.16.14 6 Comments
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With the way that Ebola is dominating headlines right now – despite Shep Smith’s best and most rational efforts – it would have been more surprising if nobody tried to fictionalize it. While my money would have been on Law & Order: SVU, it is instead Fox TV Studios that will be developing a series based on the work of author Richard Preston with producers Ridley Scott and Lynda Obst. The duo originally wanted to turn Preston’s bestselling book, “The Hot Zone,” into a feature film starring Jodie Foster 20 years ago, but the project obviously didn’t pan out.

The resurgence of Ebola, and especially the reported cases in the United States, has made the topic more relevant than ever, which is why Scott and Obst are back at work.

“I think it’s the speed with which it kills that makes the disease so frightening,” Obst tells The Hollywood Reporter. “People hoped it would stay in some remote part of the world. But that’s a fantasy in the modern world. The modern world makes us one big connected family.”

In regard to just the first chapter of “The Hot Zone,” Stephen King called it “one of the most horrifying things I’ve read in my whole life – and then it gets worse. That’s what I keep marveling over: it keeps getting worse. What a remarkable piece of work.” Keep in mind that it is a non-fiction thriller. Preston’s work in writing about Ebola isn’t limited to “The Hot Zone,” which examined the origins of this disease and similar viruses. In an article in the New Yorker last month, Preston recapped the “explosive” emergence of Ebola in West Africa, and that information will be included in the series, as will a piece that he has written for next week’s New Yorker that will cover the latest cases in the U.S.

Preston also conducted an AMA on Reddit for his August article in the New Yorker, and he answered a number of questions regarding everything from the experimental serum ZMAPP…

The antibody serum ZMAPP seems to be amazingly effective but we don’t know because it’s only been tried on the two patients. As for aftereffects, i interviewed Dr. Shem Musoke who nearly died of Marburg (close cousin of Ebola) and he told me it took him about a year to recover fully but now he was fine. It’s a crushing disease but if you survive you do recover.

… to how medical workers can avoid being infected while treating the disease.

They haven’t been able to fully protect themselves, doctors and nurses are dying. They’re wearing full protection biohazard suits, but the Ebola wards are just horrifying, 30 Ebola patients with one doctor and one nurse, both in space suits. Conditions are awful in those wards, we need more doctors and nurses – not even a space suit can totally protect you if the ward is really a mess.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Preston has been working with Scott and Obst in the development of this limited series.

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