National Geographic has announced a scripted development deal with Appian Way Productions, in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television, to adapt Tom Wolfe’s best-seller “The Right Stuff” into a scripted series. The project is from executive producers Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson, with Will Staples (“Call of Duty,” “Shooter”) serving as writer and executive producer. Michael Hampton of Appian Way shepherded this project. Tom Wolfe is represented by Bob Bookman. Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Appian Way are represented by LBI Entertainment.
The logline: “The Right Stuff” takes a gritty, anti-nostalgic look at what would become America’s first reality show, as these obsessive astronauts and their families become instant celebrities in a competition that will either kill them or make them immortal. The one-hour drama will follow the protagonists from the Mojave Desert to the edges of space, with future seasons carrying through to humankind’s greatest achievement — the moon landing.
The series will use the book as a starting point, featuring a mission for each potential season, with season one beginning at the height of the Cold War in 1958. A handful of adrenaline-junkie test pilots are living in the Mojave Desert, risking their lives daily to become the fastest pilots on earth. Meanwhile, America is against the ropes as the Soviets dominate the space race — they’ve not only beat us to put a satellite in orbit, but there is an ever-growing fear they can drop nuclear weapons from above. With the public wondering if we are a nation in decline, the U.S. government conceives the Mercury Program, America’s attempt to beat the Soviets and put the first person in space. Now they need to find the perfect team — seven heroes willing to risk almost certain death to achieve international fame and reclaim the ultimate high ground, outer space.
This project marks the second collaboration between National Geographic and Appian Way following the release last fall of the climate change documentary “Before the Flood.”