‘National Geographic has handed a series order to the adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s bestselling nonfiction book The Right Stuff from Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way.
Production on the scripted series will begin this fall on the series, which tells the story of the early days of the U.S. space program. Appian Way Productions produces with Warner Horizon Scripted Television. DiCaprio exec produces with Jennifer Davisson, while Mark Lafferty (Castle Rock) has been tapped as exec producer and showrunner, Shooter’s Will Staples and Lizzie Mickery will also exec produce, and Game of Thrones’ David Nutter will direct the premiere episode.
This comes after Nat Geo put the series into development in July 2017.
The show takes a gritty, anti-nostalgic look at what would become America’s first reality show as the obsessive original Mercury Seven 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 first season of the show will use the book as its starting point and will feature a mission for each season. Season one takes place at the height of the Cold War in 1958, when the Soviets are dominating the space race. The public is in fear of a nation in decline, so the U.S. government conceives of a solution — NASA’s Project Mercury — creating the country’s premier astronauts from a handful of the military’s adrenaline-junkie test pilots. Seven individuals, known as the Mercury Seven, are plucked from obscurity and soon forged into heroes long before they have achieved a single heroic act. Within the heart of this historic drama that’s populated by deeply human characters, two rivals John Glenn and Alan Shepard jockey to be the first in space.
The Right Stuff is the latest collaboration between Nat Geo and Appian Way, following the success of climate-change doc Before the Flood.
“The behind-the-scenes stories of the astronauts in Tom Wolfe’s bestseller The Right Stuff are engaging, provocative and timeless,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vice president, global scripted content and documentary films. “The book’s narrative aligns perfectly with the qualities that we look for in scripted projects: fact-based, wildly entertaining and pushing the limits of human achievement.”
“The Right Stuff is about a moment when the country looked in the same direction to achieve the stuff of fantasy, and on a timeline that was nearly impossible,” added Lafferty. “The story is a reminder of what we’re capable of, but it also shows how much we’ve changed and diversified over time. National Geographic is the perfect home to showcase the ambitious and colorful characters at the center of this pioneering era.”