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Mark-Paul Gosselaar will appear as FBI agent Brad Wolgast in the pilot for The Passage.

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The Passage, the best-selling book by Houston-based vampire muse Justin Cronin, has been picked up as a pilot for Fox, The Hollywood Reporter revealed.

The book takes shape as a twisting, dual-timeline thriller with a story spanning more than a century. As Houstonia described it last year, the plot is "set in a barren future wasteland, after a virus that turns its victims into vampiric monsters has wiped out most of the world’s population." Cronin, a former Rice University professor and Iowa Writers' Workshop alum, chronicles dozens of characters and their complex relationships in what became a trilogy (The Passage, The Twelve, The City of Mirrors) that clocks in at over 800,000 words altogether. 

The television pilot—currently the only episode ordered by Fox—explores part of that story with Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Pitch) as FBI agent Brad Wolgast, and known quantities such as Saniyya Sidney (Hidden Figures) and BJ Britt (UnREAL) billed as cast members. Shooting began recently in Georgia, Friday Night Lights alum Liz Heldens wrote the script (Texas forever), and the pilot is slated for a midseason launch.

Online reactions to the project ranged from enthusiastic to totally jaded:

Almost a decade after vampire dramas like Twilight and True Blood were the "thing," perhaps Cronin's meaty work is the serious response to the sexed-up fodder. Those franchises were criticized for relying on tricks and shock rather than plot, but Cronin told Houstonia plot is exactly what motivates him: 

I’m a plot slut. I love plot. All the books that made me want to be a writer, in hindsight, were the ones with the big plots: big stories, people in trouble, running from bad things.

 Whether Fox will run from the series remains up in the air—the network reportedly ordered a second script, laying the ground for a potential full season.

Learn more about Justin Cronin and his best-selling books from our 2016 interview here.

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