HBO has signed on Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Russo to develop a drama about the Catskills Gas Rush.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Russo is writing the script and is executive producing with Mark Johnson and Will Gluck.
The untitled drama is based on a 2008 article in New York Magazine by David France, who will serve as a consulting producer on the project.
The Catskills are believed to hold the largest reservoir of natural gas ever discovered in America. Geologists have known about it for more than a century but it had been largely ignored because the location made it prohibitively expensive to exploit.
But the recent discovery of a drilling technique suited for Catskills' terrain and the fact that gas prices have tripled over the past decade suddenly made the region red hot.
However, to make it feasible for exploitation, gas companies have to secure vast swaths of land near where third-generation diary farmers live next door to weekenders, mostly New Yorkers who have bought second homes in the Catskills in droves.
"What the article is about is the kind of class war that was shaping up between dairy farmers in some of the poorest land in the North East and a lot of actors, artists, filmmakers and writers who have bought second homes there," Russo said. "These poor farmers now are leasing mineral rights to gas companies, looking to become overnight millionaires as a way to save their farms and their way of life, while the weekenders are very well educated and environmentally conscious and are not anxious to see drilling, chemicals in the air and access roads cutting through their neighborhoods."
The HBO project will begin four years in the past and would allow history to play out, Russo said. Gas companies are still waiting approval from New York State for drilling to start.