How Fox Ruined del Toro's "The Wire With Vampires" Pitch

We could have had The Wire, with vampires, a Guillermo del Toro show full of craziness, topped off with anal blood worms. But Fox had different plans for GDT's television show — and anyone else notice similarities between Strain and Fringe?

This weekend at Fangoria's Weekend of Horror, director and writer Guillermo del Toro sat down with co-author Chuck Hogan to talk about their new book series The Strain. After yet again calling today's sparkle-vamps lame and praising classic Eastern European vampiric lore, he divulged how The Strain could have been the most amazing TV show ever.

"We started collaborating on it about three yeas ago," GDT explained to the crowd. "Originally I wrote an extended [series] bible for Fox TV. It was a long-form narrative, because I was completely addicted to The Wire. And I thought what if we bring that kind of reality into a vampiric pandemic. I went to Fox with a 12-page proposal. And they said, "We like it. Can you turn it into a comedy?" And I fucking grabbed my ticket and went away."

"I couldn't find any other format. I didn't want to do it as a movie, because then I would have to shorten the character arcs. It would be the same set of problems. I knew there was some violence and brutality in the proposal that I wanted to try out. And cable may have allowed me to do it. I find cable these days to actually be much more free than the movies. And [when you're making a movie] they're always trying to do everything PG-13, so fuck that shit."

"I talked to my literary agent.... I wanted to find a partner who was heavy into procedural stuff. Because when I wrote Mimic, and I could write fucking Mimic and I wasn't being ass-raped, I found that my New York looked anything but New York. I read a lot of bad books and then this man [The Strain co-author Chuck Hogan] came out like a fucking prince charming and I read his books and my hair floated and music came. I was hooked. He's a sick bastard. We ended up collaborating in more ways... some of the sickest shit in the book. Some of it is his fault. When you get to the passage that includes to anal blood worms, this [i.e., Hogan] is the man who made it. You'll get to it."

Also interesting (apart from the anal blood worms) is the fact that the beginning of GDT's The Strain reads a lot like the beginning of Fox's new TV show Fringe. Now the director was not personally making any claims of copy-catting, BUT comparisons have been made by others. Guillermo del Toro merely said:

"I pitched it to Fox four plus years ago, so if you see anything to do with Fringe, either it's a coincidence, or blame Fox. Because the [Strain] pitch opens with a 747 stopping dead in the middle of the runway. The CVC comes in and opens the door, and everyone is dead. So call Fox if you have any complaints, I myself don't think twice about it."