Ridley Scott Brings True Ebola Tale The Hot Zone to Television


Richard Preston’s nonfiction book “The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story” is heading to the small screen. The Hollywood Reporter brings word that Jim Hart, Lynda Obst, Ridley Scott and David Zucker are set to produce a televised limited series version that will explore the origins of the Ebola virus. Hart and Zucker are writing with Scott planning to also direct at least the first episode.

Preston’s bestselling book, published in 1994, is officially described as follows:

The Ebola virus kills nine out of ten of its victims so quickly and gruesomely that even biohazard experts are terrified. It is airborne, it is extremely contagious, and in the winter of 1989, it seemed about to burn through the suburbs of Washington D.C.

At Fort Detrick’s USAMRIID, an Army research facility outside the nation’s capital, a SWAT team of soldiers and scientists wearing biohazard space suits was organized to stop the outbreak of the exotic “hot” virus. The grim operation went on in secret for eighteen days, under unprecedented, dangerous conditions.

The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story in depth, giving a hair-raising account of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their outbreaks in the human race. From a remote African cave hot with Ebola virus, to an airplane over Africa that is carrying a sick passenger who dissolves into a human virus bomb, to the confines of a Biosafety Level 4 military lab where scientists risk their lives studying lethal substances that could kill them quickly and horribly, The Hot Zone describes situations that a few years ago would have been taken for science fiction. As the tropical wildernesses of the world are destroyed, previously unknown viruses that have lived undetected in the rain forest for eons are entering human populations. The appearance of AIDS is part of a larger pattern, and the implications for the future of the human species are terrifying.

Originally planned for release as a feature film, Hart and Zucker’s screenplay will be broken up into an unspecified number of episodes with the plan being to incorporate recent true events into the story, borrowing from Preston’s own upcoming “New Yorker” article, reexamining the viral crisis two decades later.