How did Eliot Ness transform from the Golden Boy of The Untouchables into a dirt-poor alcoholic who died of a heart attack at 54? That second act of the law enforcement agent’s life will be the subject of Ness, a new scripted show produced, appropriately enough, by Chicago-based WGN America as part of its new foray into original programming.
Based on Douglas Perry’s biography Eliot Ness: The Rise And Fall Of An American Hero, the series will chronicle Ness’ later years as the public safety director of Cleveland, where he again fought the mob, as well as a serial murderer called the Torso Killer. (Meanwhile, Sony TV is also developing a series based on the Torso Killer case called Nemesis.) Ironically, this former enforcer of the Volstead Act eventually became a chronic alcoholic, which caused him to lose jobs and wives until he wound up working odd jobs to make ends meet.
Deadline reports that crime novelist Dennis Lehane—whose previous TV work includes The Wire and Boardwalk Empire—will write the series, with Justified’s Michael Dinner directing. No word on casting yet, though Ness has previously been portrayed on the small screen by Robert Stack in the 1960s The Untouchables series and Kevin Costner in the 1987 movie.