In an interesting turn of events, The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal is in talks to star in Frank Darabont’s period drama pilot L.A. Noir for TNT, despite still being alive on the series – for the time being.
Citing sources close to the situation, Variety is reporting that discussions between TNT and Bernthal have "barely begun" and that there's "no certainty" that they’ll be able to come to an agreement. That being said, Frank Darabont did personally cast The Walking Dead, and it’s a fair to assume that Darabont would enjoy reuniting with Bernthal as he attempts to once-again take over the television world.
If cast, Bernthal would play Joe Teague, the main character of the series, who must fight through corruption in the LAPD during the '40s and '50s, in order to bring down famed mobster Mickey Cohen. Bernthal currently plays Shane Walsh on The Walking Dead, a character that died early on in the comic books. While Shane is still alive in the television series, this news certainly points to his potential death when the series returns in February.
Like The Walking Dead, Darabont will write and direct the pilot, as well as serve as an executive producer on the series. Joining Darabont on the project will be The Social Network producer Michael De Luca and Moneyball producer Alissa Phillips. Hopefully, unlike The Walking Dead, Darabont won’t be unceremoniously fired shortly after making L.A. Noir a hit for the network.
Recently, Turner Networks (the company that owns TNT and TBS) has positioned itself as a network that is willing to provide creative freedom to those ousted by more controlling networks. After Conan O’Brien left NBC in 2010, TBS offer him his own show on the network. What eventually led O’Brien to the network was the fact that TBS would allow him do the show he wants to do, without any (or much) interference from "the powers that be."
Like the talks with Bernthal, Darabont’s L.A. Noir is still in early stages of development, so it’s difficult to say whether or not a period drama will work on cable television – especially since ABC and NBC haven’t had much luck in their period dramas Pan Am and The Playboy Club, respectively.
That being said, there’s one thing that L.A. Noir has that Pan Am and The Playboy Club didn’t… and that’s Frank Darabont. If Darabont can transition zombies into an earnest television drama, turning the clock back 50-60 years should be a walk in the park.
Expect to hear more about L.A. Noir this May.
Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio.