Sam Raimi is making a major small-screen push, tapping former Tribune Entertainment and Universal exec William Hamm to run the newly formed Ghost House Television banner.
First scripted project for the unit is a miniseries adaptation of Dean Koontz bestseller "The Taking" that Raimi and Ghost House partner Rob Tapert will exec produce. Larry Block, who brought the idea to Ghost House, will be co-exec producer.
Like its sibling Ghost House Pictures, TV unit will have a singular focus: producing scary content.
"It's a pretty big range in TV, from something as edgy as 'Masters of Horror' on Showtime to something as soft as 'Ghost Whisperer' on CBS," Hamm said. "As Rob likes to say, if it goes bump in the night, it probably qualifies."
Establishment of Ghost House Television marks a return to the medium for Raimi and Tapert. During the 1990s, duo collaborated on a number of tube projects, from syndie smashes "Hercules" and "Xena: Warrior Princess" to the network skeins "American Gothic" and "M.A.N.T.I.S."
Raimi and Tapert originally hooked up with Hamm during their first foray into TV, when Hamm served as senior VP of drama at Universal Television.
"Rob and I enjoyed having such creatively rich experiences with him on 'Hercules' and 'Xena,'" Raimi said. "We're eager to see where this new partnership takes us."
In recent years, Raimi and Tapert have focused largely on film. Duo formed Ghost House Pictures four years ago, partnering with Mandate Pictures and producing pics such as "The Grudge" and "Boogeyman." Raimi also has his deal at Sony for Buckaroo Entertainment, not to mention a certain arachnid-themed superhero franchise he oversees.
Return to television will be methodical, with Ghost House Television initially eschewing agency representation or an overall deal with a studio.
"It's not that we're not interested in that, but right now, it's sort of, 'Let's date around and see who we like,' " Hamm said. "When you have an overall deal, there's a need to fill a pipeline. We want to take our time and build it brick by brick."
Ghost House is still looking for a scribe to adapt Koontz's "The Taking," with an eye on pitching it to networks late next month or in early February.
Book revolves around an apocalyptic rain that promotes an otherworldly invasion. Small-town thriller has as its unlikely heroes a husband and wife whose traumatic childhood may be key to beating evil.
Hamm said "The Taking" plays on an end-of-the-world theme that seems to be resonating with TV auds right now via skeins such as "Jericho" and "Heroes."
"It's not just about aliens coming to Earth to invade us," he said. "It plays on a spiritual level as well. And the end of the book you can interpret it as aliens or perhaps it's a second Noah's Ark because of the bad job we've done maintaining this world."
Hamm is also working on what will now be Ghost House TV's first unscripted project, a haunted house reality-horror hybrid skein in the works at the CW (Daily Variety, Oct. 13). Exec said the skein, which Gunnar Wetterberg is co-exec producing, could go into production by early spring.
In addition to spending nearly a decade at U, where he also helped develop "Law & Order: SVU" and "New York Undercover," Hamm worked for two years at Granada Television.
Most recently, he was head of scripted programming for Tribune Entertainment, working on skeins such as "Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda" and "Mutant X."
On the feature front, upcoming projects for Ghost House include David Slade's "30 Days of Night"; the Pang brothers' "The Messengers"; and "Rise," starring Lucy Liu and Michael Chiklis.