Wednesday, December 14, 2011

HBO to Develop Josh Bazell's Beat the Reaper as Drama Series

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

Leonardo DiCaprio acquired the film rights to Josh Bazell's debut novel Beat the Reaper just after — maybe just before — its publication date in early 2009 but the project seems to have been backburnered since then. We had news earlier this year that a new director had come on board but little more was known, though DiCaprio was still expected to star in it.

Until today.

Now we're learning that instead of a theatrical film, the book will be used as the inspiration for a drama series on HBO. And instead of starring DiCaprio, it will be executive produced by him. The screenwriting team of Brian Koppleman and David Levien (Runaway Jury, Ocean's Thirteen) will write the script for the pilot.

The book features one Dr. Peter Brown, an intern at Manhattan's worst hospital with a talent for medicine, a shift from hell, and a past he'd prefer to keep hidden. Whether it's a blocked circumflex artery or a plan to land a massive malpractice suit, he knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

Pietro "Bearclaw" Brnwna is a hitman for the mob, with a genius for violence, a well-earned fear of sharks, and an overly close relationship with the Federal Witness Relocation Program. More likely to leave a trail of dead gangsters than a molecule of evidence, he's the last person you want to see in your hospital room.

Nicholas LoBrutto, aka Eddy Squillante, is Dr. Brown's new patient, with three months to live and a very strange idea: that Peter Brown and Pietro Brnwa might-just might-be the same person …

Now, with the mob, the government, and death itself descending on the hospital, Peter has to buy time and do whatever it takes to keep his patients, himself, and his last shot at redemption alive. To get through the next eight hours — and somehow beat the reaper.

(Related article: The Hollywood Reporter.)

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