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Netflix lands ‘Ratched,’ a prequel series to ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’

Sarah Paulson Ratched
More than 40 years after its release, Miloš Forman’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest remains a landmark film, a classic story of a battle of wills between Jack Nicholson’s small-time criminal Randle McMurphy, whose actions land him in a mental institution in rural Oregon, and Louise Fletcher’s controlling Nurse Ratched.

Screenwriter Ryan Murphy — one of the most prolific TV writers of the 2010s, having masterminded series such as Glee and American Crime Story — is heading up a prequel series, titled Ratched, which will focus on the villainous nurse. According to Deadline, Netflix has picked up the series for 18 episodes split over two seasons.

Starring as the eponymous lead character will be Sarah Paulson, who has worked extensively with Murphy on several shows, including American Horror Story (which Murphy co-created with Brad Falchuk), American Crime StoryNip/Tuck, and Feud.

Ratched is the brainchild of Evan Romansky, who wrote the script fresh out of film school. CAA agent Joe Cohen sent the project to Murphy, who spent a year working to acquire character rights and facilitate the participation of the Saul Zaentz estate. Zaentz produced Cuckoo’s Nest, which won several Academy Awards in 1976, including the Oscar for Best Picture. Ratched in particular became a well-known character, and is considered one of the most iconic villains in American cinema.

Michael Douglas, who was also a producer on the original film, will executive produce the project alongside Murphy, Aleen Keshishian, Margaret Riley, and Jacob Epstein of Lighthouse Management & Media. Romansky will serve in a co-executive producer role.

Paulson, the recipient of an Emmy Award for her role as prosecutor Marcia Clark in American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, is currently appearing in a starring role in Cult, the seventh season of American Horror Story. She’ll have a lead role in American Crime Story: Katrina — due to begin filming in 2018 — and will appear in both Ocean’s Eight and Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming historical drama The Post.

A&E’s Bates Motel offered a similar look into the background of an infamous villain — namely, Norman Bates, from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho — though it had to be somewhat PG-13 since it was airing on basic cable. Ratched will have no such restrictions, though we don’t expect the nurse to be murdering people left and right.

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