Robinson Crusoe Washes Up at NBC

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NBC has ordered 13 episodes of “Robinson Crusoe,” a drama series based on Daniel Defoe’s classic novel, and plans to launch it this fall or mid-season 2009, depending on whether there will be an actors strike in the summer.

The Hollywood Reporter says “Crusoe” will be an “adrenaline-charged version” of 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.

“It’s part ‘MacGyver,’ part contemporary morality tale about race and personal discovery, part comedy and part ‘Cast Away’ meets ‘Survivor,”‘ Silverman said.

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.

In keeping with the main character’s British roots, the title role probably will likely be played by a U.K. actor, although an Australian also is a possibility. Australia is being eyed as a shooting location.