A TV pilot for a potential series based on L. Frank Baum's OZ books has been ordered up by the WB.
According to Variety columnist Michael Fleming, X-MEN scribe David Hayter will write the pilot as well as executive produce, with Lawrence Bender (GOOD WILL HUNTING), Kevin Brown (ROSWELL) and Joel Smith.
The pilot and possible series will be in a darker tone, drawing inspiration from LORD OF THE RINGS as well as C.S. Lewis' CHRONICLES OF NARNIA rather than the whimsical original OZ books.
Set in the present day, the characters of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and others will be historic legends of Oz's past (in spite of the original OZ books establishing that no one can age or die there... with the exception of the Wicked Witches). The series will focus on a 20-ish woman who finds herself dropped into Oz, where escape seems impossible. She eventually leads of a revolt against the Emerald City.
While talking to the columnist, Hayter spoke of how he was approaching the concept, saying, "I have reduced the more childlike aspects of the movie and created a series that inhabits a more visceral world. Not many people realize there were 45 books in the series, 16 of them written by L. Frank Baum, that go way beyond what was covered in the film. My goal is not to challenge the movie, but instead to create a world that acknowledges the film, but contemporizes Oz so that the movie seems a glamorized version of a very real, very dangerous place."
The potential OZ TV series is likely to be titled something along the lines of TALES OF OZ to avoid confusion with HBO's OZ prison drama series.
Tim Burton had previously been working on an OZ based series with Columbia as a syndicated TV series. That project eventually fell through.