J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Prods. has struck a deal with the estate of Rod Serling to develop an event series based on an unproduced screenplay by the renowned scribe and “Twilight Zone” host.
“The Stops Along the Way” is described as Serling’s final completed work before his death in June 1975 at the age of 50. Bad Robot and Warner Bros. TV secured the rights to the script from Serling’s widow, Carol Serling. The property will be shopped to TV outlets as a limited series.
“I’m terribly, wonderfully excited that J.J. is interested and going to do it,” Carol Serling told Variety. “It was one of my husband’s favorite pieces. He thought it had great potential.”
Abrams has been eyeing the property for some time. It’s one of several ideas that he’s discussed during the past few years with Carol Serling.
Rod Serling originally envisioned “Stops Along the Way” as a TV miniseries when he wrote the script in the early 1970s. Carol Serling wouldn’t give up any details on the story other than to say it involves “a little bit of fantasy, a little bit of imagination” and that it “takes place over a long period of time.” The property was never developed in any formal way during Rod Serling’s lifetime with a network or studio.
Abrams has long cited “Twilight Zone,” which ran on CBS from 1959-1964 as a seminal influence in his career. Serling famously turned to sci-fi and fantasy with the anthology series in order to comment on social and political issues of the day after encountering advertiser and network interference with his other works.
Serling’s teleplays, for “Twilight Zone,” “Playhouse 90″ and many other productions, remain among the most profound and incisive material ever presented on the small screen. (“Requiem for a Heavyweight,” “Patterns,” “A Town Has Turned to Dust,” “The Comedian,” to name a few.) And his unusual role as host of “Twilight Zone” and later NBC’s “Night Gallery,” made him a household name, even more than 35 years after his death.
In the Writers Guild of America’s recent member survey of the 101 best-written TV series, “Twilight Zone” ranked No. 3. Serling also wrote such landmark features as 1964′s “Seven Days in May” and 1968′s “Planet of the Apes.”
CBS owns the “Twilight Zone” franchise. Carol Serling has been protective of the material in her late husband’s canon that she controls. The Bad Robot deal only reinforces Abrams’ stature as caretaker-in-chief for iconic film and TV properties, with the Serling project added to a roster that includes shepherding “Star Trek” for Paramount and a “Star Wars” reboot for Lucasfilm and Disney.
Rod Serling’s legacy has been in the public eye in recent weeks thanks to the publication in April of a memoir by his daughter, Anne Serling, “As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling.”