Archive for the ‘Books & TV’ Category

THE SPY Is Hot

Monday, January 16th, 2017

19494John le Carré’s beloved 1963 thriller, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (PRH/Penguin, reprint 2013; OverDrive Sample), is headed to TV as a limited-series adaptation created by AMC and the BBC.

It follows on the success of The Night Manager adaptation, which just won three Golden Globes (stars Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston and Olivia Colman each took home awards) and racked up a great deal of critical praise during its run.

New York Magazine reports that “Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) will write the entire series.” The Hollywood Reporter quotes le Carré as saying “I’m very excited by the project, and have great confidence in the team.” As well he might, many of the figures behind Night‘s success are back at the helm.

Nearly fifty years after the novel’s original publication, author William Boyd summarized its enduring power, for The Guardian, calling the story,

“a complicated act of deadly triple-bluff perpetrated by the British Secret Service against its enemies in the German Democratic Republic … At its centre is Alec Leamas, sent, he believes, on a clever under-cover mission of revenge but in fact the unwitting tool of even cleverer British brains with other motives”

Boyd goes on to praise its tone and skillful construction, writing “one of the sheer pleasures of the grade one espionage novel is in unravelling its multifarious complexities and le Carré handles the unspooling web of narrative and motive with exemplary poise … there is a clear sense in The Spy of a writer hitting his stride with resolute confidence.”

mv5bmjyxodq0nzy1nv5bml5banbnxkftztcwnze4ntg5mq-_v1_The book was adapted into a movie, the 1965 Oscar nominated film starring Richard Burton and directed by Martin Ritt (Hombre, Norma Rae).

The TV project is just getting underway so there is no word yet on its stars or air date.

Hitting Screens, Week of Jan. 16, 2017

Monday, January 16th, 2017

The film adaptation of Hidden Figures continued to do well at the box office in its second week of wide release, boosting sales of both the original hardcover and the tie-in (now at #5 on USA Today‘s list). On TV, Netflix’s major launch of the adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events is flying high, with strong reviews (example, the New York Times) and the expectation that there will be a season two.

Unfortunately, the news was not good for the wide release of Ben Affleck’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night, which failed to do well with critics as well as audiences.

y648This week, Lifetime brings back Beaches, as a TV movie on Jan. 21. Idina Menzel (Frozen) and Nia Long (The Best Man Holiday) star in the revival of the 1988 Garry Marshall film that Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey made famous. The weepy is based on the Iris Rainer Dart novel of the same name, published in 1985. There is no tie-in but the book is still in print (HaperCollins/Morrow Paperbacks, 2004).

For those that do not know the story, E! News offers a summary: “Beaches follows the serendipitous meeting of two young girls … who, despite vastly different lifestyles, maintain an unexpected, yet lifelong friendship. CC (Menzel) is an aspiring singer trying to make it work in Los Angeles until she’s discovered by a director who gives her big break, while Hillary (Long) is the daughter of a prominent civil rights lawyer who struggles to find her own destiny.”

Menzel, known for her award-winning voice, admitted to E! News she was worried about stepping into Midler’s shoes, saying if “I’m being completely honest, I was terrified to do it at first because I love the movie, it’s a beautiful, beautiful movie and both of those women—especially Bette Midler, for me—were idol[s] my whole life.”

Oh, Unfortunate Day

Friday, January 13th, 2017

mv5bmtuxmjizodi0nv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdk3oti2mdi-_v1_sy1000_cr007041000_al_Look away. It is here. The Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins, 1999 – 2006), begins streaming today.

Reviews are generally glowing. Entertainment Weekly gives it an A-, writing it is “an entertaining screwball fable for these topsy-turvy, post-truth times … Harris, absolutely marvelous as Olaf, [is] having a blast, and we share in his delight.”

The L.A. Times reviewer says “I have no complaints, and only praise.

To promote the show, star Neil Patrick Harris has made the TV rounds, including the Today show and The Late Late Show with James Corden:

All sorts of media are on board, NPR even offers recipes inspired by the novels, perfect for a watch party.

GENIUS Gets A Trailer

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Just released is the first brief preview of a new series based on the life of Albert Einstein, set to air on the National Geographic Channel in April.

Genius, the first scripted series from the cable network, reports Deadline Hollywood, is part of a planned “anthology drama– telling the stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators,”

The Einstein series is based on Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe.

Academy Award-winner Geoffrey Rush stars as Einstein. Johnny Flynn (Lovesick) plays the younger Einstein while Emily Watson (The Theory of Everything) is Elsa, his second wife. Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are the series executive producers.

9781501171383_84698The tie-in, with new cover art not yet final, is set for release on April 4th:

Einstein TV Tie-In Edition:
His Life and Universe
, Walter Isaacson
(S&S; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Golden Globe Winners

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Adaptations took home several prizes from last night’s Golden Globe Awards, although the big winner was the original, La La Land.

Technically, Moonlight, which won for Best Picture, is an adaptation, since it is based on an unpublished school drama project titled In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney. 

9780735216686_c42dbFulfilling expectations, Viola Davis won as best supporting actress for her work in Fences. Denzel Washington, who starred and directed, was nominated as Best Actor, but did not win. Tie-in: Fences (Movie tie-in) by August Wilson (PRH/Plume).

9781478970637_a367bAaron Taylor-Johnson won as best supporting actor for Nocturnal Animals. The tie-in uses the original title of the novel, Tony and Susan, Austin Wright (Hachette/Grand Central Publishing; OverDrive Sample).

9780399594007_44c2dIn TV, The Night Manager produced three winners. Tom Hiddleston won for best actor. Olivia Colman and Hugh Laurie both won for supporting roles. Tie-in: The Night Manager (TV Tie-in Edition) by John le Carré (PRH/Ballantine Books; OverDrive Sample).

9780812988543_6d385The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story also did well. It won for best series, with Sarah Paulson, who played Marcia Clark, winning for best actress. The show is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s 1996 book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson. The tie-in edition (Random House; OverDrive Sample) came out last September.

Elle won Best Motion Picture in the Foreign Language with its star Isabelle Huppert winning for best actress, drama. The film is based on Oh… by Philippe Djian (Gallimard, 2012; not published in the US).

Hitting Screens, Week of January 9, 2017

Monday, January 9th, 2017

After its limited release opening on Christmas Day, Live by Night expands nationwide this Friday. Based on Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night (Harper/ Morrow; Harperluxe; HarperAudio), starring Ben Affleck who also directs. 

mv5bmtuxmjizodi0nv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdk3oti2mdi-_v1_sy1000_cr007041000_al_The first Friday the 13th of the year offers an auspicious start to a beloved series best known for its unfortunateness. The long-awaited adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins, 1999 – 2006), begins streaming on Netflix.

The show stars Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf and Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, and Presley Smith as Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire.

Reviews thus far are good. The Chicago Tribune calls it a “weird, wonderful masterpiece.”

A.V. Club says “A fairy tale for macabre bookworms who’ve graduated from Roald Dahl but aren’t ready for Edward Gorey … This blend of tragedy and twee … [is] Kids stuff with adult sophistication, driven by two-part stories, outrageous visuals, and the scenery-chewing of big-name guest stars.”

9780143129721_33886The horror film Bye Bye Man, based on a chapter in the 2005 nonfiction book The President’s Vampire: Strange-but-True Tales of the United States of America by Robert Damon Schneck (Anomalist Books, 2005), also opens on the 13th.

The film stars Carrie-Anne Moss, Faye Dunaway, Douglas Smith, Cressida Bonas, Lucien Laviscount, and Douglas Jones and tells the supposedly true story of three friends who get into trouble when they mess around with a Ouija board.

The adaptation has had a bumpy path to the silver screen. Yahho! TV reported “the pic was first slotted in October around Halloween, then moved up to June, then back to December. Now, it’s being pushed to next year at a time when horror films traditionally have opened well.”

No reviews yet but Movie Pilot has a story about how “true” the story might be.

A tie-in edition came out in May 2016 under the title, The Bye Bye Man: And Other Strange-but-True Tales (PRH/TarcherPerigee; Penguin Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Alone in Berlinbased on the German WWII novel, Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone (Melville House, 2010; OverDrive Sample) opens in a limited number of theaters and with no tie-in. Starring Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson, and Daniel Brühl, it received a mixed review from Variety when it appeared in the Berlin film festival. 

As NPR reported at that time, Fallada was a best selling author between WWI and II, with his books picked as book-of-the-month-club selections and adapted into Hollywood films (which got him blacklisted by the Nazis).

However, Every Man Dies Alone wasn’t published in English until 2009, after Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson heard about the book from the fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg and tracked it down.

When it finally did come out here, it was a best seller and became a NYT‘s Notable Book and one of The New Yorker‘s Favorite Fiction Books of the year.

WHITE PRINCESS, STARZ

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

The trailer has just been released for the TV series adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s White Queen, set to air on the STARZ channel some time in 2017.

The sequel to BBC’s 2013 series The White Queen, adapted from the first novels of Philippa Gregory’s the “Cousins’ War” series, which also ran on STARZ. it features the same writer/director team and stars Jacob Collins-Levy as Henry VII, Jodie Comer as Princess Elizabeth, Essie Davis as Elizabeth Woodville, Joanne Whalley as the Duchesss of Burgundy, Michelle Fairley as Margaret Beaufort and Suki Waterhouse as Cecily of York. 

The sound track features a haunting version of Johnny Cash’s
I Walk the Line, by Halsey (incongruously, it is also used for the new Power Rangers trailer).

Below, Gregory, who serves as executive producer on the series, describes the history behind the novel.

The final book in the series, The King’s Curse was published in 2014.

THE HANDMAID’S TALE Gets Premiere Date, Tie-in

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

9780385490818Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1986) will premiere on April 26, 2017.

To mark the release date, Hulu issued a set of first photos revealing some of the costumes and settings. The photos nudged the book higher on Amazon’s sales charts.

A tie-in has also been announced, The Handmaid’s Tale (Movie Tie-in), (PRH/Anchor, trade pbk; March 28, 2017)

The ten-episode dystopian drama stars Elisabeth Moss, who made her name on Mad Men, as Offred, the central character and a handmaid, a rare fertile woman who has become the property of the state, forced to conceive against her will. Joseph Fiennes stars as The Commander, to whom Offred is assigned. Yvonne Strahovski plays Serena Joy, The Commander’s wife. Jordana Blake, Samira Wiley, Max Minghella, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, and O-T Fagbenle round out the cast. Atwood serves as a consulting producer.

UpdateGilmore GirlsAlexis Bledel has joined the cast, and a new trailer has been released.

Hitting Screens, Week of Jan 2, 2017

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Two high-profile film adaptations expand nationwide this week, Hidden Figures and A Monster Calls (see our coverage from their Oscar-qualifying opening week).

mv5bmtk5nta1nzkynv5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzk1mdm3mdi-_v1_On NBC, a new series based on The Wizard of Oz begins.

Emerald City is billed as a “modern reimagining” of the backstory of L. Frank Baum’s famous tale.

After a rocky path to the screen, involving delays and major changes in the lead team, it finally premieres Jan. 6 at 9 EST and will run for 10 episodes in its opening season. Tarsem Singh (Mirror Mirror, Self/less) directs. Shaun Cassidy (Cold Case) serves as executive producer.

Deadline Hollywood says the show is “gunning for” the Game of Thrones label, writing it offers a “dark new take” in which “Dorothy [is] transported by tornado along with a K9 police dog into a mystical land of competing realms, lethal warriors, dark magic and a bloody battle for supremacy.”

ScreenCrush calls it an “ultra-ultra-ultra-gritty take” and details the cast: “Adria Arjona as Dorothy Gale (complete with K9 police dog Toto), Dracula star Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Scarecrow-type Lucas, Florence Kasumba as the Wicked Witch of the East, Joely Richardson as Glinda, [and] Vincent D’Onofrio as the Wizard of Oz.”

To TV: TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT

Friday, December 16th, 2016

9780316403436_e8038-1Julia Roberts is returning to the small screen (after HBO’s The Normal Heart) and will star as Eleanor Flood in a limited series adapting Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Semple, no stranger to TV herself (she worked on Beverly Hills, 90210, Mad About You, Suddenly Susan, and Arrested Development), will write the script for the adaptation, says The Hollywood Reporter.

“I’m giddy that Eleanor Flood will be brought to life by Julia Roberts … This will be a fun ride!” says Semple.

This is not Semple’s only project, she is also adapting Where’d You Go Bernadette for the big screen, with Cate Blanchett attached to star.

No news at this point on when either project will debut.

Golden Books

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

The nominees for the 2017 Golden Globes include a number of TV shows and films with book connections. As the LA Times puts it in their rundown, so many that “if you’re more at home in a library or a bookstore than a movie theater, you’re likely to find some reading material to curl up with while the rest of your family is gathered around the television set.”

Most of the nominees are already well known, as we have noted:

mv5bm2q4zty1mdatywqxys00ywm0lwfjzdmtngezntdhmmq3mdizxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjuyoti5mq-_v1_sy1000_cr007541000_al_One is much less familiar, My Life as a Zucchini, an animated film from Switzerland based on Autobiographie D’une Courgette (J’Ai Lu Editions, 2003; no English translation), a YA novel by the French journalist Gilles Paris.

Selected as the Swiss entry for Best Foreign Language Film for this year’s Oscars, it just won the European Film Awards category for best European animated feature (here is its official entry page).

The story is about a young boy who becomes an orphan following the death of his alcoholic mother. Taken to an orphanage by a police officer who befriends him, the boy must learn to cope with his new life and surroundings as he interacts with other traumatized children.

Variety says “Leave it to a French-language stop-motion film to cut closer to the reality of the orphan experience than Annie, Matilda or any number of like-minded live-action melodramas … the cartoon is never afraid to be cute, but more importantly, it’s committed to being real.”

The Hollywood Reporter calls it “lovingly told and gorgeously rendered” and says “Though not as dark as the book that inspired it, nor as directly critical of the French welfare state [it is] not exactly a tale for all ages. That said, savvy distributors who know how to market high-end animated films to older audiences should get some decent mileage out of this Courgette.”

Variety reports that North American distribution rights have been sold, but so far, no release date has been announced.

New UNFORTUNATE Trailer

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Reflecting their major investment in the upcoming adaptation of
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, (HarperCollins, 1999 – 2006), Netflix is ramping up their promotional efforts. The third and probably not the final trailer was released last week.

The series begins streaming on January 13.

Expect to see more series from Netflix, which has is cutting back on movies in favor of original programming. As the company’s chief content officer noted at a recent conference, only one third of their customers watch movies.

No tie-ins have been announced.

The Slow March Of A Very
Dark WINTER

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
IMDb image for GOT Ep. #7.1

IMDb image for GOT Ep. #7.1

George R.R. Martin is not happy, and he won’t be making his readers happy either. Expect more delays for Winds of Winter says The Telegraph, reporting on Martin’s appearance at the Guadalajara International Book Fair in Mexico.

Writing that he has “missed several deadlines” for the next in the series and saying he still does not know when it will be completed or published, the paper reports Martin’s grim assessment of the story so far,

“There are a lot of dark chapters right now … Winter is the time when things die, and cold and ice and darkness fill the world … Some of the characters [are] in very dark places … In any story, the classic structure is, ‘Things get worse before they get better,’ so things are getting worse for a lot of people.”

As for the next, next book (Dreams of Spring) and the ending of the series, Martin says, “I’m not going to tell you how I’m going to end my book, but I suspect the overall flavor is going to be as much bittersweet as it is happy.”

It seems darkness is Martin’s current mood. On his blog this week, he posted, “December has come, and the end of 2016 (thank god, what a bloody awful year).” While he does not list all the reasons 2016 was horrible, it did mark yet another year in which his book was not finished.

Reflecting his dour mood from 2015 on not completing the saga, Martin told the audience in Mexico, “Sometimes I look back and say, ‘Did it really have to be Seven Kingdoms?’ The Five Kingdoms of Westeros, that would have been good, right?’”

On the HBO series front, IMDB has posted an air date of June 25, 2017, although few other sites offer confirmation. HBO aired a tiny teaser in its video of upcoming shows for 2017.

BIG LITTLE LIES, First Full Trailer

Monday, December 5th, 2016

1410472035_08b27HBO’s adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s 2014 best seller, Big Little Lies, begins airing on February 19, 2017.

The just-released first full-length trailer is making headlines. Glamour calls it “The Mom Version of Pretty Little Liars You’ve Been Waiting For” and Entertainment Weekly says that the “Trailer Hints At Dark Underbelly Of Parenting.”

The cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley, causing the  A.V. Club to note, “this one seems to star every famous white woman under the sun (plus Adam Scott).”

Tie-ins hit shelves in February:

Big Little Lies (Movie Tie-In), Liane Moriarty (PRH/Berkley trade pbk; February 7, 2017; Mass Market).

THE ALIENIST Finds Its Stars

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

9780812976144Daniel Brühl (Rush, Inglorious Bastards, The Zookeeper’s Wife) and Luke Evans (The Girl on The Train, The Hobbit trilogy) will star in the TNT adaptation of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, reports Deadline Hollywood.

Brühl will play the criminal psychologist in the novel, Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, and Evans will play newspaper reporter John Moore as they join forces to conduct an investigation into a series of gruesome murders ravaging gilded age NYC (Deadline, which generally gives scant attention to the source material, provides an unusually long and vivid description of the story).

This moves the long-gestating series closer to the screen, with an expected air-date of late 2017. After several attempts to adapt it as a movie, as we noted earlier, the best selling 1994 psychological thriller was planned for a small screen run as an 8-part series. Previously, Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation, True Detective) was attached to direct, but now he’s an executive producer and Jakob Verbruggen (episodes of House of Cards, Black Mirror) will take over the director’s role.

Filming is expected to begin early in the new year.