middle earth writers room

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV Series Finds Its Creative Fellowship

Photo: New Line Productions

Amazon Prime’s big-budget Lord of the Rings series has locked in its key creative team, including the two men who will lead production on the series. J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, the Star Trek 4 writers brought on a year ago to write and develop the show for the streamer, have now been officially named executive producers and showrunners for the project, Amazon announced on Saturday. The duo don’t have any previous experience running a TV show, but there’s precedent for untested film writers being handed massive tentpole series: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were famously television-production neophytes when HBO handed them hundreds of millions of dollars to adapt Game of Thrones for the screen. What’s more, just as HBO did with Thrones, Amazon is surrounding Payne and McKay with a team of seasoned production and writing vets.

In addition to the previously announced hiring of J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) to direct the first two episodes and executive produce, Payne and McKay have assembled an all-star team (or, as the duo said in a release announcing the team, a “Fellowship”) of writers, producers and craftspersons to bring their version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world to life. Among the officially announced hires:

— Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad), Jason Cahill (The Sopranos), and Justin Doble (Stranger Things) are joining as writers and executive producers.
— Former HBO production chief Bruce Richmond, who helped oversee Game of Thrones and recently left the cable network, is onboard as an exec producer, as is former Bad Robot exec Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), who left the J.J. Abrams production company last fall to join Team Amazon.
GoT writer Bryan Cogman and Stephany Folosom (Toy Story 4) will be consulting producers, while Ron Ames (The Aviator) is onboard as a producer.
— Helen Shang (Hannibal) will be a writer and co-producer, while Glenise Mullins will serve as a writing consultant.
— Non-writing exec producers on the show include Gene Kelly (Boardwalk Empire) and former Amazon exec Sharon Tal Yguado. (Fun fact: Non-writing GoT exec producer Carolyn Strauss was head of HBO Entertainment before she joined the GoT team.)
— The creative tech team today includes costume designer Kate Hawley (Suicide Squad), production designer Rick Heinrichs (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), visual-effects supervisor Jason Smith (The Revenant), Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey, and illustrator and concept artist John Howe.

“This team is our Fellowship — assembled from around the world, all walking the road together to try and accomplish something far greater than any of us could on our own,” McKay and Payne said via an Amazon press release. “We feel humbled and extremely lucky to be surrounded by such inspiring and talented women and men.” Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke praised the group as well. “As our journey into Middle-earth begins, we are in excellent hands with J.D. and Patrick at the helm, with this incredible team of talent that they’ve assembled,” she said.

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV Series Finds Its Creative Team