Nat Geo is developing a scripted series based on Mark Bowden’s book Guests of the Ayatollah, which tells the story of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, with Genius showrunner Ken Biller.
The Disney-backed broadcaster has optioned the novel and will adapt as a limited series. Biller, who is showrunner and exec producer of Nat Geo’s Genius will exec produce and write the adaptation.
It is Nat Geo’s latest book adaptation; its version of The Hot Zone, based on Richard Preston’s 1994 bestseller, launched in May with Julianna Margulies and production started this month on its remake of Annie Proulx’s Barkskins about French settlers in North America in the 17th Century and Tom Wolfe’s 1979 space classic The Right Stuff.
Landscape Entertainment’s Bob Cooper brought the book to the network and will serve as a non-writing exec producer alongside Head of Television Tom Lerner. Fox 21 Television Studios will produce the series, which was revealed at the TCA press tour by National Geographic president of global networks Courteney Monroe and will be overseen by Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president of global scripted content and documentary films.
Guests of the Ayatollah looks at the events that unfolded on and after Nov. 4, 1979, when a group of radical Islamist students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Motivated by the revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini, the radicals held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, releasing them at the exact moment President Ronald Reagan was sworn in.
“The 1979 Iran hostage crisis was America’s first taste of militant radicalism in the Middle East,” said Monroe. “The ensuing diplomatic crisis, and its lingering effects on American politics, are still being felt decades later. Revisiting this time through Mark’s outstanding work gives us an opportunity to reflect on our current world order.”
“I’m excited to continue my collaboration with National Geographic and Fox 21 Television Studios on a project that is both dramatically complex and timely,” said Biller. “Like millions of Americans, I was glued to my television as these astonishing events unfolded, and the opportunity to share this story with a new generation is a real thrill.”
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