NBC has picked up “Robinson Crusoe,” a drama series based on Daniel Defoe’s classic novel, with a 13-episode order, says The Hollywood Reporter.
“Crusoe” will be produced by Universal Media Services and Power, the leading European producer of high-end TV movies and miniseries. According to Power, this marks the first time in 45 years that a scripted series for a U.S. broadcast network is produced by a British company.
The budget for the 13-episode series is said to be about $35 million. NBC/UMS’s portion is estimated to be about $10 million, for which NBC gets domestic rights to “Crusoe.”
Power, which will shoulder the rest of the cost, gets international distribution rights.
NBC plans to launch “Crusoe” in-season, either next fall or midseason 2009, depending on whether there will be a strike.
“Crusoe” will couch the 1719 novel with a contemporary feel and voice, including a 21st century take on race relations, but it will be a period drama, taking place in the 17th century, when the book is set.
Like the novel, NBC’s series will center on Crusoe and his relationship with his loyal servant, Friday. But in addition to their adventures overcoming marauding militias, hungry cannibals, wild cats, starvation and apocalyptic lightning storms described in the book, the series will introduce additional characters and elements, including a MacGyver-like knack of the lead character for making handy tools and devices out of common items.
“Crusoe” will be adapted to series by an American writer, while, in keeping with the main character’s British roots, the title role will most probably be played by a U.K. actor, with an Aussie also a possibility. Australia is being eyed as a shooting location.