EXCLUSIVE: Star Trek icon Jonathan Frakes is to direct a 10-part series based on novel and audio book Deathlands.
The series comes from NextCypher, the indie that crypto pioneer Jeff Garzik launched last year, and is set to begin shooting in Sofia, Bulgaria, this spring. When we first told about the show in August 2022, Garzik described it as “Mad Max: Fury Road meets Yellowjackets in an epic post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure.”
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Mark A. Altman (Pandora, Agent X) as the showrunner and executive producer. Thomas P. Vitale (Slasher, 57 Seconds) and Garzik are also executive producers. Christine Sheaks (Boogie Nights, Fargo) is handling global casting efforts.
Frakes — known for his role as Commander William Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Picard and several Star Trek movies — is directing. “One of the things that I find so compelling about Deathlands is that it’s a series about hope and the chance to build a better world,” he said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to bring this show, combining feature level action and compelling character drama, to the world.”
Deathlands began life as a series of novels from James Axler, first published in 1986 as a joint project between Axler and Jack Adrian. They are set in a post-Apocalyptic world 100 years after a nuclear exchange between U.S. and Soviet Union, in which a mutated, crazed civilization is beginning to reemerge. The stories follow Ryan Cawdor and a band of survivors, who travel the ‘Deathlands’ using a teleportation technology they have uncovered.
Along with the Star Trek franchise, Frakes is known for roles in NCIS and unscripted series Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. As a director, he has credits for shows such Roswell and Burn Notice and two Star Trek films, Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection. He recently voiced Riker once again in Star Trek: Very Short Treks, animated short-form promos from CBS Studios that celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek: The Animated Series.
Altman, who developed the series with Vitale, said: “With a series that is gritty, suspenseful, and action-packed, with a sense of hope, romance, and resilience in the face of adversity, I cannot imagine anyone better to bring Deathlands to the screen than visionary director, Jonathan Frakes. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have him onboard to ensure the series will be appointment television for viewers everywhere.”
Garzik, who was the co-founder and CEO of crypto firm Bloq, launched his company last year and unveiled plans for a slate of series. The company is also planning to shoot an “action-packed, futuristic, terrestrial-based sci-fi series” titled Looking Glass, which is based on an idea from Garzik. A graphic novel launched last year via NextCypher’s Words + Art comic book imprint.
Also in development are “several procedurals” that “meet the needs of the marketplace,” according to Garzik. NextCypher is also actively acquiring additional IP, and plans are afoot to expand into new areas of production, including the launch of an unscripted division. Bertrand Reignier and Tai Truesdell of Rogue Wave Entertainment are overseeing international sales for NextCypher’s portfolio.
“I launched NextCypher to capitalize on the appetite for innovative, high-quality genre entertainment. I’m glad to see the market aligning with our vision of producing smartly budgeted, and exceptional content for a global audience,” said Garzik. “Deathlands is an ideal launchpad for us, especially considering the success of similar post-apocalyptic series based on successful IPs like The Last of Us and the eagerly anticipated Fallout.”
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