HBO, 'Vice' director Adam McKay to turn hunt for COVID-19 vaccine into TV series

The untitled series will center on the "companies and individuals putting everything on the line to save lives," the cable channel said.
Image:
Nurse Carolyn Grausgruber gives volunteer Ithaca firefighter Wade Bardo, of Erin, N.Y., an injection as the world's biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway on July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y.Hans Pennink / AP

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By Daniel Arkin

HBO and Oscar-winning filmmaker Adam McKay are teaming up on a limited series about the global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine, the cable network announced Monday.

The untitled series will center on the "companies and individuals putting everything on the line to save lives" as well as "the challenges playing out around politics, access, and safety," HBO said in a news release.

The narrative of the series will be adapted from "The First Shot," an upcoming nonfiction book written by Brendan Borrell, a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, National Geographic and other publications.

The proposal for the book was sold at auction to publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and acquired by HBO, according to the network.

In recent years, McKay has pivoted from directing raunchy comedies such as "Anchorman" and "Step Brothers" to taking on more topical, overtly political projects, such as the scathing Dick Cheney biopic "Vice" and the financial crisis docudrama "The Big Short."

McKay, who won an Oscar for adapting the screenplay for "The Big Short" alongside writer Charles Randolph, is also among the executive producers of the HBO drama series "Succession," a darkly comic satire of corporate media and familial dysfunction.

The vaccine series will be developed by McKay's production company, Hyperobject Industries. The company is planning to produce another HBO series about the late sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, based on an upcoming book by Miami Herald investigative journalist Julie K. Brown.

McKay is also working with Oscar-winning director Bong Joon Ho on an HBO series inspired by the South Korean filmmaker's "Parasite," a genre-twisting portrait of economic inequality that made history at this year's Academy Awards, where it became the first non-English-language film to win best picture.