Erik Larson‘s highly-acclaimed historical non-fiction work The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America is coming to Hulu, with a much shorter title – and with Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull) and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) teaming with Paramount TV on the streaming service series. Hulu’s SVP of Originals Craig Erwich announced the project during Monday’s Television Critics Association (TCA), with Scorsese, DiCaprio, Rick Yorn, Emma Koskoff, Jennifer Davisson, and Stacey Sher set to executive produce.
Hulu’s adaptation of The Devil in the White City tells the true story of two men, an architect and a serial killer, whose fates were forever linked by The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. It follows Daniel H. Burnham, a brilliant and fastidious architect racing to make his mark on the world and Henry H. Holmes, a handsome and cunning doctor who fashioned his own pharmaceutical “Murder Castle” on fair grounds – a palace built to seduce, torture and mutilate young women. The story takes the viewer on a tour of murder, romance and mystery in the gilded age.
DiCaprio has owned the film rights to the work since 2010, when it was originally envisioned as a film with Scorsese expected to direct.
Originally published in 2003 by Crown Publishing Group, here’s a look at the overview for Larson’s historical non-fiction book The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America:
Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium.
Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.