In 2008, journalist Marcus Wohlsen wrote a short piece for The Associated Press about the growing culture of bodyhackers, which became the basis for a 2011 book, Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life. Now, nearly a decade after his original article, Wohlsen, Senior Editor at WIRED Business, is seeing his book become the foundation for a television drama produced by and starring Zachary Quinto.
Based on Deadline’s announcement, the TV series (which is being developed with Legendary Television and will be pitched to networks soon) seems as if it will merge Wohlsen’s real-life findings with the usual intrigues and stakes you would see in an hourlong drama. Wohlsen’s resarch focused on the growing biohacker and biopunk communities, profiling and interviewing “DIY scientists” who were more comfortable working out of their garages than in laboratories, and who believe in making the tools for altering and rebuilding genetic code available to all. He also touched upon fears of DIY bioterrorism and genetic experimentation gone horribly wrong. Deadline describes Quinto’s role as “the iconoclastic leader of this movement who can’t wait for the future to get here fast enough”—sounds both charismatic and ominous. And while bodyhacking has made huge leaps in the five years since Wohlsen published his book, those communities are becoming much more mainstream, giving the creative team plenty of material.
Chase Palmer, who is co-writing the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s It, is series creator, is writing the pilot, and will serve as executive producer. He said in a press release:
The minute I was introduced to the world of Marcus’ book my imagination was captured. I knew immediately this edgy, activist, kick-down-the-walls subculture of citizen scientists was my way in to telling a bigger canvas story about the next great technological evolution no one knows is coming but will change everything: hacking life. I am pumped to be doing this with Legendary, which excels at smart event entertainment, and especially with Zachary Quinto, whose intelligence and charisma I built the series around.
Along with his producing partner Neal Dodson (from Before the Door Pictures), Quinto will also executive produce. He said:
Having spent some time in my career exploring the landscape of science-fiction—it is a particularly exciting step to delve into a world of science-fact. The unfathomably thrilling real-life work of bio-hackers is dramatically crafted with compelling and complex dynamics by Chase Palmer, and Marcus Wohlsen is a limitless source of insight into and information about this powerful and fascinating subculture. Legendary has been a great partner in the developmental phase of this project, and we are all beyond excited to assemble a first rate creative team and bring Biopunk to life.
Photo: Buzzy Mag