Since wrapping the sixth and final season of MTV’s hit Teen Wolf, the show’s out gay creator and showrunnerJeff Davis (above middle with his Teen stars) will soon be helming two new intriguing projects: one a reimagining of the NBC Rod Sterling anthology series Night Gallery and the other a Fox series adaptation of horror novelist Dean Koontz’s Strangers. A huge Koontz fan, Davis says the author had a great influence on his own writing.
“My first and biggest challenge is to not disappoint him with my adaptation,” Davis says of Koontz. “[Hollywood has] botched just about every attempt they’ve made to adapt his novels. With Teen Wolf I was really creating something new. Mostly just taking a title and a few basic ideas and crafting my own story in my own voice. With Strangers, I’m working to make a TV version of a novel that I love.”
Another challenge is turning the written word into pictures, particularly thoughts and feelings of the different characters. “I can’t just cut and paste the novel into a teleplay format,” Davis explains. “I have to find a balance between respecting the source material and translating it into a visual medium.”
In 2003, Davis hit his stride when CBS picked up his pilot, which eventually became the highly successful series Criminal Minds, where he served as co-executive producer during the first season of the show.
Strangers highlights people with unusual fears and sudden phobias. Davis himself is terrified of the idea of swimming in the middle of the ocean. “If I was tethered to a boat I could probably do it. But people who jump off a boat in the middle of the ocean and go swimming? I can’t imagine anything worse.”
One thing Davis has been vocal about is the issue of coming out in Hollywood, which he still says is an issue for actors.
“Mindhunter was one of my favorite shows of last year and had Jonathan Groff, an out gay actor, playing the straight male lead. No one blinked,” he explains. “Yet, many gay actors I know still don’t believe they’ll get the roles they want or [think] that they’ll only be considered for gay roles [if they come out]. The industry still believes that coming out is a career killer. I can name 10 gay actors right now who are not publicly out. It’s their choice. But I keep hoping they’ll take that step.”