EXCLUSIVE: Mel Gibson, Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne and Mike Medavoy are teaming on Dancing Bear, an adaptation of the hardboiled crime novel by the late James Crumley that is in the early stages at USA Network though Universal Cable Productions.
They haven’t greenlighted it yet, but Gibson is aboard to direct the pilot episode. He will be executive producer with Phoenix Pictures’ Medavoy and Edward McGurn and Icon’s Bruce Davey. Luisa Town, Anna Waterhouse and Lauren Weissman are co-executive producing. Towne also will be an executive producer.
Crumley’s novel is set in Montana and centers on part- time detective Milo Dragovitch, who becomes entangled with a cast of unsavory characters in a web of criminal conspiracies, blackmail, land grabs, grizzly bears, guns and drugs.
Said Gibson, “It’s basically Chinatown set in a 7-11 in Montana in the ’70s with a whole lot of cocaine.”
Towne, of course, won his Oscar for scripting Chinatown. He and Medavoy have been trying to crack this novel for a while, originally intending to make it a feature film. Towne has refashioned it as an hourlong pilot. The network would not comment.
“I’m thrilled to be working with Mel, whom I’ve known for years,” Medavoy said. “This is a project Robert Towne and I developed together back at TriStar, and I’m glad to see it finally find its medium in the television of today.”
Gibson’s last directorial outing was 2016’s Hacksaw Ridge, which was nominated for six Oscars and won two. Gibson was nominated for Best Director and that World War II film for Best Picture. Gibson won Oscars for Best Director and Best Director for 1996’s Braveheart.
Mel Gibson is repped by CAA and Robert Towne by Rand Holston of Paradigm.