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He may never make it back to his home planet, but he will make it to television.
The Man Who Fell To Earth, the 1962 Walter Tevis novel best remembered for the 1976 film adaptation starring David Bowie, is headed to CBS All Access.
The novel and film tell the story of an alien who comes to Earth looking for water and becomes a successful tech mogul. Alex Kurtzman, known for his recent work on Star Trek properties, will serve as co-showrunner alongside Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married, Star Trek: Discovery).
In a joint statement released Thursday, the writers said, “Walter Tevis’ visionary novel gave us a Tech God Willy Wonka from another planet, brought to life by David Bowie’s legendary performance, that foretold Steve Jobs’ and Elon Musk’s impact on our world. The series will imagine the next step in our evolution, seen through the eyes of an alien who must learn what it means to become human, even as he fights for the survival of his species.”
Kurtzman says the vision for the series requires a minimum of three seasons. The first season will focus on the alien becoming the head of a tech company. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the writers said that they imagine the series as a “sprawling” and “globe-trotting” reimagining of the film.
Though the Man Who Fell to Earth series is working with source material that is over fifty years old, Kurtzman and Lumet see this as a story that is particularly relevant today. Kurtzman remarked, “The source material is an alien comes to Earth with tech that advances the species—and today, that could be Amazon or Apple or SpaceX—take your pick.”
As far as replacing the great David Bowie, the showrunners say they won’t try for such a Herculean feat. “He was a magical creature, a unicorn,” Kurtzman says. “We’re not trying to replicate that.”
Brenden Gallagher is a politics reporter and cultural commentator. His work has been published by Motherboard, Complex, and VH1. He’s the co-founder of Beer Money Films, an indie production company. Based in Los Angeles, he works in television drama as a writers assistant.