The long, deeply weird battle to get Robert Jordan’s beloved Wheel Of Time books onto TV screens has taken yet another—and, for once, potentially positive—turn. You might remember the series making derisive headlines last February, when production company Red Eagle Entertainment—which acquired the TV and film rights to the sprawling fantasy novels in 2008, before supposedly passing them on to Universal—purchased paid air time on FXX to broadcast Winter Dragon, a “pilot” for a possible Wheel Of Time TV show. Based on the prologue to Jordan’s first book, The Eye Of The World, the 22-minute program starred Billy Zane, Max Ryan, and some truly awful CGI, and was a pretty naked attempt by Red Eagle to hold on to the rights to the books before they lapsed from disuse, which would have happened just days after the program aired.
But a 1:30 a.m. stealth showing of two men smirking at each other and yelling about dragons was not the end of the weirdness surrounding Winter Dragon. First, the project’s director, James Seda, died in a car crash shortly before it was broadcast, with his last Twitter message discussing the project’s rushed, haphazard production. Then Jordan’s editor and widow, Harriet McDougal, issued a statement denying all knowledge of the show, and asserting that Universal still had the rights to the books. And then Red Eagle sued McDougal for slander, ignoring the old legal statute that says suing the widows of rabidly beloved fantasy authors is rarely seen as a classy move.
Red Eagle dropped the suit in July of 2015, possibly opening the road to some sort of reconciliation. That’s apparently now come, as McDougal posted a statement on The Wheel Of Time’s Google+ group—because a blog or Twitter would be too normal for this winding mess of a story—saying:
Update: Wanted to share with you exciting news about The Wheel of Time. Legal issues have been resolved. The Wheel of Time will become a cutting edge TV series! I couldn’t be more pleased. Look for the official announcement coming soon from a major studio.
Reading between the lines, it sounds like Red Eagle’s no longer directly involved in the series, which is probably good news for everybody except Billy Zane. Stay tuned for that big studio announcement, which will presumably come at 3 in the morning, in the form of a typo-filled post on Universal’s LinkedIn account.