News broke today — I saw it on hitfix.com — that Seth Rogen (The Green Hornet, Knocked Up) and Evan Goldberg (co-writer and co-director on This Is the End with Rogen) are adapting the Vertigo comic series Preacher for TV.
The comic was Garth Ennis’ modern take on the Western, as Jesse Custer, a Texas preacher with the Voice of God, the ability to command people to do what he says, journeys across America accompanied by skilled shooter Tulip and Cassidy the Irish vampire. It was illustrated by Steve Dillon and not for the faint of heart as it was at various times profane, ribald, disgusting, violent, and blasphemous. Only a foreigner could capture so many aspects of the American experience with such a combination of reverence for the imagery and disgust at what it could become at its worst.
The project’s media history is checkered. It was going to be a movie starring James Marsden in the early 2000s, produced by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. Later that decade, it became an HBO series with new stories from Ennis. When they got cold feet, Columbia (a Sony company) acquired the film rights. But now it’s back to a TV show for AMC (who needs to fill the Breaking Bad hole in their schedule and have had great success with violent comic adaptation The Walking Dead). Sam Catlin, BB showrunner, will be handling the same role here.
It’s not yet guaranteed we’ll see Preacher on TV — the project is just in development. Rogen and Goldberg did a good job with similar material in their apocalypse movie this past summer, though, blending religion, humor, and depravity. The Hollywood Reporter has more details on this project.
Update: Tom Spurgeon has this fascinating twist on the story, from an unnamed source:
DC’s media rights to Preacher expired, after more than a decade of trying to get this show going and failing miserably. They refused to re-assign media rights to Garth [Ennis], which he tried to get back when Paul [Levitz] cancelled The Boys over its content, despite it being WildStorm’s only hit at the time. Within weeks — no kidding — of getting his rights back, Garth got Preacher to Seth [Rogen] and Evan [Goldberg] and AMC. It’s an interesting story, and it might generate interest in other creator-owned DC titles, but it’s actually a deterrent for them in retaining talent, since most of the folks Vertigo would publish all know one another and [are] aware of the happenings with Preacher.
The big publishers are supposed to be better in dealing with media outlets, not worse. Anyway, the takeaway here is, creator ownership is good, and DC is not involved in this TV deal.