Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan is reuniting with executive producer Michelle MacLaren for a new HBO limited series entitled Raven. The show will focus on the infamous Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple cult, which tragically came to an end in Jonestown in 1978. Vince Gilligan will write the pilot episode, with Michelle MacLaren set to direct, and both serving as executive producers alongside Oscar winner Octavia Spencer.
Variety reports that the series will be developed with Sony Pictures Television. The show will be following the cult's idealistic origins to the mass suicide of over 900 people. The story was previously adapted for the small screen with the 1980 miniseries Guyana Tragedy, starring Powers Boothe as Jones.
The Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ was founded by Jim Jones in the 1950s in Indiana, mixing socialism with Christian teachings in what they called "apostolic socialism." The group moved then moved to California, opening branches in Los Angeles and San Francisco, although the organization came under intense media scrutiny as it continued to grow. In 1977, Jones and hundreds of his followers fled to Guyana in 1977.
On November 18, 1978, the group killed a U.S. Congressman named Leo Ryan, along with journalists and cult members who tried to flee Guyana with the Congressman. Leo Ryan had visited the colony after allegations of abuse had surfaced. Later that night, Jones and his followers initiated a mass suicide where the Jonestown followers drank juice laced with cyanide. That night, 918 people died, 909 of which were Americans, in what was the largest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act, until the 9-11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
It isn't known if HBO has a release date in mind yet for Raven, or when production may begin. Vince Gilligan serves as an executive producer on the Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul, which returns with Season 3 next year. Michelle MacLaren has directed episodes of Better Call Saul, along with HBO's Game of Thrones, The Leftovers and the upcoming Westworld. She also directed the pilot episode of another upcoming HBO show, The Deuce, starring James Franco.