There’s been a lot of criticism over cable TV news coverage of the Ebola outbreak, with Fox News’ Shepard Smith calling it “irresponsible” and John Stewart describing it as producing a “sanity-resistant strain of fear that’s gone airborne.” So although there might be public cries of “Too soon!” in reaction to the news from Entertainment Weekly that director Ridley Scott and producer Lynda Obst are working on a limited television series about the virus, fictionalizing the event might actually help to contain the outbreak of paranoia that threatens to overtake the news coverage.
The series, which the famed "Blade Runner" director has reportedly been working on with Obst for the past year, is based on Richard Preston’s 1994 best-seller “The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of The Origins of the Ebola Virus” and will be adapted for Fox TV Studios. Preston had originally published an essay called “Crisis in the Hot Zone” in The New Yorker in the early 1990s that was optioned for a feature-length film set to star Robert Redford and Jodie Foster, but it never made it to the big screen, according to EW. “The Hot Zone” covered the two Ebola crises of the 1970s and 1990s.
The lines between Ebola fact and fiction, Stewart suggested in his segment, have already been blurred. In a recent CNN segment hosted by anchor Don Lemon, Robin Cook, author of the 1987 book “Outbreak” was invited to discuss the real Ebola news. “These experts are so boring,” joked Stewart when introducing the CNN clip. “Isn’t there someone who’s not technically a doctor but who will validate our hysteria?”
According to Entertainment Weekly, the series will include a storyline about the recent Ebola outbreak, which started a few months ago in West Africa, and has already claimed more than 4,500 lives, according to NBC.