Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has teamed with HBO for a new drama titled Raven, based on cult leader Jim Jones and the 1978 mass suicide at the Peoples Temple, or “Jonestown,” in Guyana.
For the series, Gilligan will reunite with Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones director Michelle MacLaren, with Gilligan on board to pen the pilot episode. Actress Octavia Spencer, who initially secured the rights to Raven’s source material – Tim Reiterman’s nonfiction Raven: The Untold Story of Jim Jones and His People – serves as executive producer, The Hollywood Reporter writes.
Raven, published in 1982, is considered the definitive account of the Jonestown massacre; Reiterman was among a group of journalists, concerned relatives and congressional aides to accompany Congressman Leo Ryan on the ill-fated journey to Guyana to survey Jonestown. Ryan and three other journalists were ambushed and killed at a Guyanese airstrip after their visit to the Peoples Temple. Reiterman was shot and injured in the ambush.
Soon after, Jones instructed his over 900 followers to commit suicide by cyanide, resulting in the largest loss of American lives until the September 11th terror attack.
As The Hollywood Reporter notes, A&E and Jake Gyllenhaal, as producer, are working on a competing anthology series that focuses on cult leaders, with Jim Jones the subject of Season One.
Gilligan currently serves as executive producer on the Breaking Bad prequel series Better Call Saul. Gilligan’s follow-up series, 2015’s Battle Creek, was canceled by CBS after 13 episodes.