Dark Winds: AMC, GRRM Bringing Tony Hillerman Crime Novels to Series

AMC plans to develop Tony Hillerman's Navajo Nation crime novels Dark Skies for television. The series is based on the Hillerman's Leaphorn & Chee books that follow two Navajo police officers in the 1970s Southwest, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Creator Graham Rolan (Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan) will be behind the series and will act as an executive producer along with Kiowa Gordon (The Red Road), showrunner Vince Calandra (Castle Rock), director Chris Eyre), star Zahn McClarnon, Tina Elmo, and Vince Gerardis.

LOS ANGELES - OCT 7: Zahn McClarnon at the "Fargo" Season 2 Premiere Screening at the ArcLight Hollywood Theaters on October 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA (Editorial credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com)
(Editorial credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com)

Tony Hillerman's Dark Winds Comes to Television

Also joining the aforementioned executive producers are author George R. R. Martin and screen legend, actor Robert Redford. Production secured permission to film on tribal lands in New Mexico. The first season will follow the officers' search for clues in a grisly double murder case that forces them to challenge their own spiritual beliefs and come to terms with the trauma of their pasts. "We're thrilled by the prospect of authentically telling this story with a group of remarkably talented individuals," said Dan McDermott, president of original programming for AMC Networks and AMC Studios. "This is a rich and deeply unsettling psychological thriller set in a world we know viewers will appreciate experiencing for themselves. The series order is the product of several months in a writers' room staffed entirely by Native American writers, and it is a series that will be brought to life by those storytellers, with a cast led by Zahn McClarnon and featuring Native American actors, filmed largely in and around Native American lands, with the full support and blessing of The Navajo Nation. We are so excited about telling this captivating and entertaining story while rendering this vibrant, rich, wonderful culture and community on AMC+ and AMC."

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"I read my first Tony Hillerman novel in 1986 while filming in New Mexico and was immediately hooked. Hillerman is a master storyteller, his writing is full of mystery and suspense, set amidst a background that blends traditional oral stories of Native American culture and landscape," Redford added. "I am happy to partner with George R.R. Martin and AMC on this project, and am especially grateful for the collaboration with President Nez and The Navajo Nation." The actor served as executive producer to the feature adaptation of The Dark Wind in 1991 that starred Lou Diamond Phillips and Fred Leaphorn and was directed by Errol Morris.

The Song of Fire and Ice Series author that inspired the HBO series Game of Thrones also chimed in. "Tony Hillerman was one of the greats, as every mystery reader knows," he said. "Down here in the Southwest, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee are as iconic as Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Philip Marlowe, and Travis McGee. When my friends Robert Redford and Chris Eyre asked me to help bring Leaphorn and Chee back to television, I could not agree fast enough. We have great source material in Tony's novel Listening Woman, a great pilot script from Graham Roland, a great director in Chris… and what a pair of leads, with Zahn McClarnon as Leaphorn and Kiowa Gordon as Chee! Our plan is to shoot in New Mexico, in and around Santa Fe and on the Navajo reservation, and we are bringing in as many Navajo and other Native Americans as possible, as writers, directors, cast, and crew, to capture all the magic and mystery and wonder of the Land of Enchantment. Thanks to AMC for making it possible. Tony Hillerman wrote a lot of amazing books, and it is our dream to adapt as many of them as we can."

Dark Winds: AMC to Develop Tony Hillerman's Crime Novels to Series
Image courtesy of Carolco Pictures

"We are excited to welcome Chris Eyre, AMC Studios, and the industry's top executives for the production of Dark Winds, part of which will be filmed on the Navajo Nation," said Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation." I also welcome my friend, Robert Redford, back to our Nation once again. This week, the Navajo Nation lifted more COVID-19 restrictions to welcome visitors and tourists back to Diné Bikéyah. We look forward to welcoming the film crew and we hope this will serve to draw more interest from production companies and draw more tourists to boost our economy and contribute to the 'Buy Navajo, Buy Local' initiative. Thank you to everyone involved in this great venture with the Great Navajo Nation!" Season one will feature six episodes and is scheduled to premiere on AMC in 2022. McClarnon can be seen in Universal's The Forever Purge and will be in the upcoming series Reservation Dogs and the Disney+ series Hawkeye.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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