“The Man Who Fell to Earth” Is Going to Be a TV Series

The 1976 David Bowie vehicle is heading to CBS All Access.

In 1976, David Bowie—still shaky from his cocaine-ravaged time spent in Los Angeles recording Station to Station and a subsequent tour—decamped to New Mexico with director Nicolas Roeg and actors including Candy Clark, Bernie Casey, and Rip Torn to shoot the sci-fi flick The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Now, the iconic feature is being transformed into a TV series destined for CBS All Access. At the helm are Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet of Star Trek: Discovery, who will serve as co-showrunners.

“I’ve been a fan of this extraordinary film for years,” CBS TV Studios president David Stapf told Hollywood Reporter. “While no one can ever hope to surpass Bowie, bringing the film to series will allow for an ongoing detailed and nuanced exploration of the concepts established in the novel.”

“Walter Tevis’ visionary novel gave us a Tech God Willy Wonka from another planet, brought to life by David Bowie’s legendary performance, that foretold Steve Jobs’ and Elon Musk’s impact on our world,” Kurtzman and Lumet added in a joint statement. “The series will imagine the next step in our evolution, seen through the eyes of an alien who must learn what it means to become human, even as he fights for the survival of his species.”

When it comes to casting, the pair stressed that they’re not looking for someone to ape Bowie’s performance, but instead to capture a singularly unique presence.

“He was a magical creature, a unicorn. We’re not trying to replicate that,” they admitted. “What was interesting to us about that character and the novel was this creature who didn’t understand us and what it meat to be a human being. We’re going to look for somebody who is going to transform themselves into this incredible creature. What will be fun is to see how they go from literally not understanding human language to being the modern equivalent of Steve Jobs and to watch that evolution.”

A premiere date for the new show is forthcoming. Hollywood Reporter points out that The Man Who Fell to Earth was previously adapted for TV by ABC in 1987; while that never made it to series, the pilot episode—starring Beverly D’Angelo, Wil Wheaton, and Lewis Smith—aired as a TV movie. Watch the promo below, and you’ll have a pretty good idea as to why it didn’t make the cut.


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