Michael Connelly is excited.
Fans of his 18 novels about Los Angeles Police Department homicide investigator Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch will be excited, too: Bosch, a series based on the books, will be coming to TV screens in 2014. And it will arrive via the new TV paradigm: as streaming video, in this case from Amazon.com.
And who will play Bosch? Titus Welliver, right, a veteran of Deadwood, The Good Wife and many other TV series and movies — a casting move the author says he is "thrilled" by.
Connelly, an internationally bestselling author who has lived in Tampa for about a decade, called from L.A. to talk about the pilot for Bosch, which begins filming Monday. "I've been involved in movies and TV shows before," (including The Lincoln Lawyer) he says, "but I've never had the involvement and approval I've had on this project."
Bosch will not be a network or cable series — it is one of the first two hourlong drama pilots greenlighted by Amazon Studios, which develops original content for the streaming entertainment arm of Amazon.com. (The other drama is The After, created by Chris Carter of The X-Files fame.)
Early in 2014, those two pilots, plus those for several comedies and children's shows, will be offered free. Continuing series will be available through Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Getting Bosch to the TV screen was a long process. Connelly, left, went to court in 2010 to get the rights to his creation back from Paramount. He formed a partnership with producer Henrik Bastin of Fabrik Entertainment, then took the idea to Eric Overmyer, showrunner for The Wire and Treme. "He was on board right away," Connelly says.
They realized Bosch was "not a network show" and decided to write the script for the pilot and the show's "bible" outline first, rather than pitch the idea and wait for approval.
After a Yankees spring training game in Tampa in March, the author was talking to Larry Kirshbaum, former CEO of Time Warner Book Group (which includes Connelly's publisher, Little, Brown) and now head of Amazon's publishing arm. "Larry said, what are you up to, and I told him, and he went back and told Roy Price, who's head of Amazon Studios, and they came to us."
The series will adapt and combine material from books about Bosch. The pilot episode draws from City of Bones and The Concrete Blonde. The series also adapts Bosch. Connelly began writing about him in 1992 and has aged him in real time, which makes him currently 63. "We wanted the series to be contemporary, instead of re-creating 1992 Los Angeles all the time. So that meant we had to change Harry's age, because our hope is this show lasts several years." Welliver is 52 — just right, Connelly says, because "I can't really imagine Harry as a young guy."
Given that change, instead of being a Vietnam veteran, Bosch will be a Special Forces veteran of the first Gulf War, where he was involved in tunnel warfare — an experience that, fans know, shaped his character.
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"It's pretty exciting," Connelly says. "I love the screenplay, I love everyone we've cast."