Akiva Goldsman Inks First-Look MGM Deal, Doubling Down On Sci-Fi Dramas

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Hollywood power-producer Akiva Goldsman has signed a first-look deal with MGM Television that will see him develop scripted series for the company.

Goldsman, who was previously in business with Imagine Television via a non-exclusive first-look deal, is a veteran scribe best known for his Oscar-winning screenplay for A Beautiful Mind.

Under his Weed Road Pictures shingle, Goldsman will get to work writing and executive-producing buzzy sci-fi projects for MGM, which has stretched its range in recent years by developing projects like FX’s acclaimed Fargo series and Hulu’s award-winning adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. The news was announced via a press release Monday.

First up for Goldsman at MGM is Ringworld, a sci-fi tale set up at Amazon that will adapt the 1970s sci-fi classic by Larry Niven. Like the novel, it will center around Louis Wu, a man who journeys to a gigantic alien construct in space shortly after celebrating his 200th birthday on a futuristic Earth.

Amazon’s eyeing Ringworld as a potentially large-scale project akin to Game of Thrones, a high-caliber drama series with global appeal and a rich mythology. Though the company, through its streaming arm, has seen success with original dramas like alt-history The Man in the High Castle, superhero sendup The Boys, and fairy-tale fantasy Carnival Row, none of its series in that “epic” genre space have broken through quite like Thrones, its fellow HBO series Westworld, or even competing streamers’s entrants like the dystopian Handmaid’s Tale. That may likely change with the arrival of its massively anticipated, ultra-expensive Lord of the Rings series, one of the biggest creative gambles taken by any streamer in the past decade.

But teaming with MGM Television—and now Goldsman, a proven hitmaker across genres—is evidence that Amazon isn’t pinning every last hope on Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

Goldsman is also set to produce Aurora Rising, an adaptation of the sci-fi YA novel by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff that was recently optioned by MGM. An intergalactic space opera, the series draws much of its drama from the presence of an at-odds squad of misfits, all recent graduates from Aurora Academy sent out on a risky deep-space mission; the books, aimed at a younger audience, have a fervent fan following and have earned comparisons to Guardians of the Galaxy with their tonal balance of humor, sci-fi action, and heart.

Said Goldsman in a statement: “I couldn’t be more excited to work with MGM. Their creative and business acumen, thoughtful attention to storytelling, and excellent executives make them optimal collaborators in today’s ever-changing television landscape.”

Added Steve Stark, MGM’s president of TV development and production: “Akiva is a powerhouse talent with impeccable taste and creative instincts. MGM is thrilled to be in business with him and our entire team looks forward to our collaboration on Ringworld and to the many distinctive and quality projects that lie ahead together.”

Goldsman’s one of the most prolific producers and scribes working in Hollywood. Since A Beautiful Mind earned him an Oscar, he’s emerged as a studio journeyman, racking up credits as diverse as Cinderella Man, I, Robot, I Am Legend, and The Da Vinci Code. Upcoming titles for him include Doctor Sleep and Paramount’s Tom Clancy adaptation Rainbow Six.

Recently, he worked with Hasbro and Paramount to set up a writer’s room for the Transformers franchise, guiding that franchise away from the mega-budget cacophony it had leaned into previously. The first film since that collaboration, last year’s Bumblebee, was a smaller character piece (directed by Travis Knight and written by Christina Hodson) that earned the best reviews of the franchise.

Goldsman has dipped his toes into television over the years, most notably working on Fox’s sci-fi procedural Fringe across its five seasons. He executive-produced WGN’s Underground, co-created and executive-produces DC’s Titans and CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Picard. He’s also got iron in the fires at Amazon, with a music-oriented series to which Sandra Bullock and John Legend; at Fox, where 100 Days Without Fear is set up; and at Showtime, where he’s shepherding Gormenghast, a Gothic fantasy series adapted from the classic British book series of the same name, which was published between 1946 and 1959.

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