Adam McKay Bringing COVID-19 Limited Series to HBO

Leave it to the premium cable service to give the American public what it's been yearning for in 2020: COVID as entertainment.


The search for a vaccine for COVID-19 is one of the biggest news stories around the world right now. HBO is turning this hunt into a limited series with Succession exec producer Adam McKay.

Deadline understands that the premium cable network has optioned The First Shot, a non-fiction narrative book by The Atlantic and New York Times writer Brendan Borrell.

McKay’s Hyperobject Industries will produce the Untitled Vaccine Project and he will exec produce alongside Todd Schulman and Borrell.

The book, which was sold at auction to publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Sugar23 Books, tells the story of the global coronavirus vaccine race. It will explore the companies and individuals putting everything on the line to save lives, the science that it is based on, and the challenges playing out around politics, access, and safety.

Borrell has been closely covering the vaccine search, writing pieces including The Dire Diplomacy of the Global ‘Race for a Vaccine’ for Wired and articles for National Geographic magazine and Science Magazine. His other work includes coverage of rare genetic diseases for NYT and Australia’s flesh-eating bacteria problem for The Atlantic.

McKay has been busy since launching Hyperobject Industries last year and striking a five-year, first-look television deal with HBO in October. His first project under the deal was set as a limited series based on Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown’s upcoming book about Jeffrey Epstein.

His LA Lakers drama project, previously known as Showtime, and based on Jeff Pearlman’s non-fiction book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, was ordered to series in December with John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss.

He is also working with Bong Joon Ho to adapt Oscar-winning film Parasite into a television series, while HBO sister streamer HBO Max gave a green light to The Uninhabitable Earth, a climate change anthology series inspired by David Wallace-Wells’ global best-selling book and New York Magazine article, in January.

CAA represented the television sale of Borrell’s The First Shot on behalf of the Waxman Agency. Hyperobject Industries is represented by WME and Ziffren Brittenham.

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