National Geographic has issued a serial order for a miniseries based on Richard Preston's 1995 book The Hot Zone. The network made the announcement during the initial presentations this week, and comes from Scott Free Productions of Ridley Scott, Fox 21 Television Studios and Lynda Obst Productions. It was not announced when the program would be released or how many episodes would be executed.
The Hot Zone is about the discovery of the Ebola virus in Africa in the 1970s and an outbreak that occurred in Reston, Virginia, in 1990, when a group of quarantined monkeys began to die of mysterious causes. Ebola is a virus that is believed to be transmitted to humans through contact with animals. The virus is deadly those who contract it experience fever, headaches, muscle pain and diarrhea. In some cases, they also experience internal and external bleeding. The virus has often been seen in small outbreaks in central Africa, the most recent outbreak occurred in May 2017, while a massive outbreak occurred between 2014 and 2016, killing more than 11,000 people.
The adaptation has a long history behind this. Preston's book began as a 1992 article in The New Yorker "Crisis in the Hot Zone," which followed the story of the Reston outbreak and the efforts to contain the outbreak by the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. That article was chosen for a movie in 1993 by producer Lynda Obst and 20th Century Fox. Warner Bros., who had bid on the option for the film, went ahead with his own virus story, Outbreak starring by Morgan Freeman, Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo. Obst had hired Ridley Scott to direct the film, with Robert Redford and Jodie Foster as protagonist, but the film never entered production. Scott and Obst found renewed interest in the subject in 2014 and began developing a television miniseries based on the book.
That series has now been captured by the National Geographic channel, which has started producing its own original scripted TV in recent years, such as the Emmy-winning Genius an anthology program on the lives of notable figures such as Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso and Mary Shelley, and Mars a quasi-documentary and a science fiction program about an expedition to the Red Planet. The hotspot will now join that alignment. Preston's book is an ideal candidate for this type of treatment: it is a dramatic story about a terrifying virus, made even more relevant by the recent memory of the 2014 outbreak, which saw infections throughout the world, including the United States. In addition, there is the possibility of monitoring if this series is successful. In addition to The Hot Zone Preston also wrote about smallpox, anthrax and biological weapons in The Demon in the Freezer and is working on a book about the 2014 outbreak.