Archive for the ‘Books & TV’ Category

In the Works: Two New Ian McEwan Adaptations

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

9780307386175A moody still from the upcoming film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach (PRH/Anchor; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) features star Saoirse Ronan, called ” a turquoise vision” by Entertainment Weekly.

The two-time Oscar nominated actress stars with newcomer Billy Howle. McEwan wrote the screenplay and Dominic Cooke (The Hollow Crown) directs, his first time doing a feature film. The cinematographer is Sean Bobbitt (12 Years a Slave, Queen of Katwe, and Wonderland.)

The film does not yet have a release date and no tie-in has been announced.

It follows a long line of adaptations of McEwan’s work. He has already had eight of his novels or short stories turned into films and more are on the way.

9780385497527Announced earlier this month, Benedict Cumberbatch will work with BBC One and PBS Masterpiece to adapt the award-winning 1987 novel The Child In Time (PRH/Anchor; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample). Cumberbatch is set to star and executive produce.

9780385721790The most famous and successful McEwan adaptation was 2007’s Atonementstarring James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave, and Saoirse Ronan. It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture, Drama and Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress. 

Ewan says, in the 2011 video below, that he has found the adaptation of his books into films generally a good experience (note: at the time of the video, a different director and actress were set to do On Chesil Beach). 

Droughtlander Continues
through Summer

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

9780440217565_2448bFor two seasons viewers have learned to expect the Starz’s TV series Outlander to begin in April. Not this year. It will debut in September.

Entertainment Weekly reports season 3, based on Voyager (PRH/Delacorte, 1993), will run for 13 episodes and that shooting has moved from Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa to “the former sets of the Starz series Black Sails.” For those who do not know the books, part of the action of Voyager involves pirates and takes place on ships as Jamie and Claire travel to the West Indies.

Carmi Zlotnik, President of Programming at Starz, said “While Droughtlander will last just a little longer, we feel it is important to allow the production the time and number of episodes needed to tell the story of the Voyager book in its entirety … The scale of this book is immense, and we owe the fans the very best show. Returning in September will make that possible.”

A specific release date has not been announced. A tie-in edition also has not been announced.


Friday, February 17th, 2017

9781400052172_1e7daHBO just announced that their adaptation of Rebecca Skloot’s long-running bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, will begin airing on Sunday, April 22 at 8 p.m.

Oprah Winfrey stars as Deborah Lacks, Henrietta’s daughter and the character through whom the story is told. Rose Byrne (Damages) plays Skloot. Others in the cast include Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton) and Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story). George C. Wolfe (Angels In America) wrote the adaptation and will direct.

The book recounts the sad but fascinating story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman from Baltimore who died in 1951. Johns Hopkins Hospital removed cancer cells from her body without her permission  They were the first cells to live outside a human body, making them invaluable for medical research. They continue to be used today.

The story is in the news again for reasons other than the HBO series. The Lacks family is suing Johns Hopkins. Lacks’s  grandson explains to The Baltimore Sun “Everyone else is making funds off of Henrietta’s cells … I am sure my grandmother is up in heaven saying, ‘Well, what about my family?‘”

A fixture on best seller lists, the book spent a year on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction list and over four on the Paperback Nonfiction list, falling off that list just a couple of weeks ago. 

9780804190107_07eacTie-in: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Movie Tie-In Edition), Rebecca Skloot (PRH/Broadway Books; March 28, 2017; OverDrive Sample).

Hitting Screens, Week of Feb. 13, 2017

Monday, February 13th, 2017

As expected, Fifty Shades Darker was a strong box office draw over the weekend, but it was shut out at #1 by the Lego Batman movie.

The movie has propelled the book back up best seller lists. It is currently #18 on the USA Today list, but is beat out the by Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron at #3  Hidden Figures at #4 and the Swedish import, A Man Called Ove,at #5. The Swedish-language adaptation was recently released on demand and DVD,  Readers are anticipating upcoming adaptations, as well, sending The Shack back up USA Today’s list where it is currently at #8.

9780399587191_29e1eAlso rising in anticipation of HBO’s adaptation is Liane Moriarty’s 2014 best seller, Big Little Lies, Starring  Starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Shailene Woodley, the series begins airing on February 19th. 

Dubbed the “Murderous Moms of Monterey,” by Deadline Hollywood, it is getting mixed reviews. Variety calls it “a bonfire of the vanities for this faux-progressive, self-satisfied set” and writes it “unfolds its mystery like a delicate flower, with teased hints that are sometimes flashbacks, sometimes flash-forwards, and sometimes glimpses of imagined fantasy.”

IndieWire says “Not since True Detective (Season 1) has an HBO limited series built a mystery this compelling.”

However, The Hollywood Reporter calls it a “soapy melodrama … more annoying than entertaining.”

9780143039631_ac32fIn Dubious Battle, the adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel, opens in limited release and on VOD on Feb. 17, starring James Franco, who also directs, and Selena Gomez.

The direct to VOD release indicates the studio does not have high hopes for it, although the theatrical release gives it the opportunity to qualify for the Oscars.

Reviews so far largely confirm the studio’s take. The Guardian says, “This admirably-intentioned adaptation of the 1936 industrial strife novel suffers from a tin ear, flat feet and overweening vanity.”

The Hollywood Reporter writes it is “a shame that Franco’s dreams and ideas for this film weren’t as big as those of his protagonists.”

However, Variety is on board, if damning with faint praise, writing it is “Franco’s first watchable dramatic feature.”

The film, about the formation of the labor movement in 1930s California, has a notable ensemble cast, including Zach Braff, Bryan Cranston, Ed Harris, Robert Duvall, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Sam Shepard.

The Penguin classics edition has a sticker announcing it is now a “Major Motion Picture.”

Second Season

Friday, February 10th, 2017

9781368012188_c69c4Netflix has renewed its hit animated show Trollhunters for a second 13-episode season.

Entertainment Weekly says it is “a bingeable creation” that is “shaping up to be its most-watched children’s series ever.”

The show is based on the novel of the same name, written by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus, illustrated by Sean Murray (Hachette/Disney-Hyperion; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample).

The series is described by EW as following the adventures of “a teenager-turned-warrior called upon by an underground civilization of trolls to defend their way of life from both humans and evil trolls alike.”

It stars the late Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, before his death. Del Toro, who is serving as the show runner, filled in some of Yeltsin’s parts with previously recorded tracks and has more audio in the wings. The cast also includes Kelsey Grammer (Frasier, Transformers: Age of Extinction), Ron Perlman (Hellboy), and Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead).

Season one premiered in December and earned a 93% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. To accompany it, the paperback edition of the book was released, with a sticker identifying it as, “the book that inspired Dreamworks TrollHunters.”

The book itself also got strong reviews. School Library Journal says “Featuring plenty of edge-of-your-seat action, this offering … won’t disappoint … More gruesome than scary, this title will be a hit with teens and adults who love action-packed, dark fantasy adventures.”

OUT OF AFRICA: From Big Screen To Small

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

9780679600213Isak Dinesen’s memoir Out of Africa (PRH/Modern Library; BOT; OverDrive Sample), made famous on the big screen by Sydney Pollack’s 1995 multiple Oscar-winning film starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, is in development, reports Deadline, as a TV series.

Some big names are involved. Producer David Heyman (Harry Potter, Gravity) is working on the adaptation for NBCUniversal with Emmy winning director Susanne Bier (The Night Manager).

Dinesen’s classic memoir, written under the pseudonym Karen Blixen, recounts her years living on a farm in Kenya during the twilight of the British Empire. Heyman says “the long form series offers us the chance to explore not only Karen’s world, but also the perspective of the Kenyans she encounters.”

Time magazine listed the book at #62 on their list of 100 best and most influential works of nonfiction written since 1923, saying:

“Her memoir depicts the close relationships she fostered among the men who worked for her, giving African characters a complexity and dignity not found in other colonial texts. The occasional brutality and profound loss that characterize colonial life do not overshadow the serenity with which Blixen-Finecke writes, fostering wanderlust in anyone who reads her book.”

It’s part of a trend of adapting popular films  to TV, notes The Hollywood Reporter. Recent examples include “redos of Lethal Weapon, The Exorcist, Training Day and Taken.” 

Seeing Red

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

The first promo for the Netflix adaptation of the childrens classic Anne of Green Gables, was released at a press event yesterday reports Entertainment Weekly. It begins with images of other redheaded stars from the streaming service, including Stranger Things‘ Barb and Orange Is the New Black‘s Red.

Perhaps that’s an effort to signal that this Anne, despite her 1908 setting, is relevant to today. Netflix says the production, created with the CBC, will explore topics beyond Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel, “Anne and the rest of the characters will experience adventures reflecting timeless issues including themes of identity, sexism, bullying, prejudice, and trusting one’s self.”

Showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad) tells CBC News, “I feel that this Anne is entirely different … We’re off-book. We’re the essence of the book … and we’re telling a new story … This is a very grounded, real version of the story. Life in Prince Edward Island in the late 1800s was a hard, gritty, scrappy life. It was messy, it was covered in red mud … It’s not doilies and teacups, it’s life.”

Praising the relatively unknown 14-year-old star, Irish-Canadian actress Amybeth McNulty, Walley-Beckett says she is “riveting on screen, She’s translucent. You can see every thought and every emotion.” 

The eight-episode first season debuts on May 12. No tie-in has been announced, but the book is in print in multiple editions from various publishers.

TV Hearts Charlaine Harris

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

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The small screen has been very good to Charlaine Harris. She became a best selling author after HBO’s adaptation of her True Blood series, her Aurora Teagarden mysteries are an ongoing series of Hallmark movies and yet another TV series, based on her Midnight, Texas titles,is currently in the works for NBC.

The network must be pleased with what they’ve seen so far. NBC just ordered a pilot for another series, to be based on Harris’s short story, Redliners.

Unable to find publication information for Redliners, we did what any smart organization does when they are stumped, we turned to a librarian, in this case Lesa Holstein, who blogs about mysteries at Lesa’s Book Critiques, and her reference sleuths at Evansville Indiana P.L.

They report that the description that Redliners “centers on a pair of former spies living in suburbia who get drawn back into the espionage game while trying not to blow their cover” matches a short story with a different title, “Small Kingdoms,” originally published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in November 2013 and reprinted in The Best American Mystery Stories of 2014, edited by Laura Lippman (HMH, 2014). That is confirmed in a post by her literary agent.

Award Winning Kids Books Get Adaptation Deals

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

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Book enthusiast Reese Witherspoon, behind several successful adult book adaptations, including Gone Girl, Wild, and the upcoming HBO series Big Little Lies, has turned her sights to a middle-grade novel. Her production team has acquired the rights to the National Book Award finalist The Thing About Jellyfish, (Hachette/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers).

Another actress/producer Gina Rodriguez is developing the Pura Belpré Award winner, Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass  by Meg Medina, (Candlewick, 2016) as a TV series. Deadline reports that the project has just been acquired by the streaming service Hulu.

Handmaid’s Super Bowl Trailer

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

mv5botu3njczmteznv5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjk5mzcwmti-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_If you choose the Puppy Bowl over the Super Bowl this weekend, you will miss an ad for Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 1986). Good news, it has been released on YouTube, so you can have both. [UPDATE: as a result, the book shot to #1 on Amazon’s rankings on Monday].

The Super Bowl clip features more backstory as well as footage of the terror the handmaid’s face.

Two tag lines emerge. Elizabeth Moss, playing the handmaid Offred says: “My name is Offred — and I intend to survive.”

Joseph Fiennes, playing Commander Waterford, officially empowered to imprison and force Offred to bear his child, says: “We only wanted to make the world better, but ‘better’ never means better for everyone.”

Entertainment Weekly reports on the trailer in detail.

The series will premiere on April 26, 2017. A tie-in comes out in late March: The Handmaid’s Tale (Movie Tie-in), (PRH/Anchor, trade pbk; March 28, 2017). The book is rising on best seller lists and some see that as having more to do with protests against the Trump administration than with the upcoming series. The producer and the cast themselves have called the 20-year-old dystopian novel it is based on “prescient.”

THE PASSAGE Trilogy Heads to TV

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

After a flirtation with the big screen, Justin Cronin’s post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy trilogy is now headed to the small screen via a pilot order by Fox for a possible 10-episode series adaptation.

Liz Heldens (Friday Night Lights) will write the pilot and Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) will direct. Cronin is on board as a co-producer.

Deadline Hollywood reports “The Passage‘s road to the screen started in 2007 when, in a fierce bidding situation … Fox 2000 landed the first book — then half-written — for $1.75 million … Originally developed as a feature, the producers eventually determined that the property would be better served as a TV series.”

Scott Free Productions is behind the series. Founded by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, The Martian) and his brother Tony Scott (Top Gun), the production company is no stranger to high concept adaptations. They are the team responsible for The Man in the High Castle based on Philip K. Dick’s classic 1954 SF title and AMC’s upcoming The Terror, based on Dan Simmons’s historical horror novel.







The trilogy consists of:

The Passage (PRH/Ballantine, 2010; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample)

The Twelve (PRH/Ballantine, 2012; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample)

The City of Mirrors (PRH/Ballantine, 2016; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample)


Monday, January 23rd, 2017


Amazon plans to produce a six-part series based on Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, a fantasy-comedy novel written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins, 2007; trade pbk.; orig. pub date 1990; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample).

Slate reports BBC Studios will partner with Amazon and that Gaiman has already written all of the episodes. He will also act as showrunner and serve as a co-producer.

Amazon summarizes the series in its press release:

Good Omens takes place in 2018 when the Apocalypse is near and Final Judgment is set to descend upon humanity … So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, and tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming war. And…someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist.”

In the same release, Gaiman says “Almost thirty years ago, Terry Pratchett and I wrote the funniest novel we could about the end of the world … It became many people’s favourite book. Three decades later, it’s going to make it to the screen … I just wish Sir Terry were alive to see it.”

The Guardian points out that it has been adapted before, as an award-winning radio drama on BBC Radio 4 and there were a proposal for a film adaptation, directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp as Crowley and Robin Williams as Aziraphale, that did not move forward.

The series will premiere sometime in 2018. Casting information is not yet available.

Hitting Screens, Week of January 23, 2017

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Adaptations coming this week include three to the small screen, plus a troubled theatrical opening.

9780765388100_9e2a3Debuting in theaters on January 27th is A Dog’s Purpose, a tearjerker about a dog named Bailey who comes back to life again and again (each time remembering his past).

The book was first published in hardcover in 2010 and spent over a year on the New York Times hardcover and trade paperback best seller lists. Anticipation of the movie has brought the title back to best seller lists. It is currently #1 on the USA Today list, up from #3 last week.

The film stars Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson, Josh Gad, Peggy Lipton, and some great dogs. Unfortunately, it recently received unwanted attention due to accusations that one of the dogs was treated cruelly on set. Author Bruce Cameron has defended the production, but threats of boycotts by PETA caused Universal to cancel last week’s scheduled premiere. The general theatrical release is going forward.

Tie-in: A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans, W. Bruce Cameron (Macmillan/Forge; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample).

9780143131434_3b882Coming to TV on Wednesday, Jan. 25 is the opener of season two of Syfy’s The Magicians, based on the trilogy by Lev Grossman.

Entertainment Weekly reports the 13-episode run begins with the events depicted at the close of the first season and will include a more detailed look at Fillory: “Fillory is beautiful,” the magazine quotes actress Summer Bishil (who plays Margo) as saying, “It really feels like we’re somewhere magical when we’re in Vancouver because we’re always in some majestic forest and it’s lit like heavens are opening.”

Ttie-in: The Magician King: A Novel (TV Tie-In), Lev Grossman (PRH/Penguin; BOT; OverDrive Sample).

9781682559727_40effNew on TV is the debut of the live-action adaptation of the Archie comics, Riverdale.

Den of Geek! says of the CW show, it is “not a sitcom” as readers of the comic might expect, “but a one-hour drama inspired by Twin Peaks.” Praising its casting and its production team, (it is written by Archie comics’ Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and is executive produced by Greg Berlanti who also produced Arrow and Flash) the site says the show has its “finger on the pop culture pulse.”

In their rave review of the first four episodes, Den of Geek! also calls it “highly addictive” and writes “Yes, this is a show that mixes sex and murder and noir with Archie, but it does so in a way that is self-aware and instantly ready to shatter expectations … And you know what? It is magnificent.”

The show is set to premiere on Thursday, Jan. 26. A tie-in comes out at the end of the month: Road to Riverdale, Mark Waid, Chip Zdarsky, Adam Hughes, Marguerite Bennett (PRH/Random House; OverDrive Sample).

9781250028662_db2e9Also new, and streaming on Amazon, is Z: The Beginning of Everything, a mix of costume drama and bio-pic detailing the life of Zelda Fitzgerald (played by Christina Ricci) and her legendary marriage to F. Scott Fitzgerald.

New York Magazine suggests, “Think of the Fitzgerald scenes from Midnight in Paris, but 50 percent grittier … and filmed in America.”

It is based on on Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (Macmillan/ St. Martin’s Griffin; OverDrive Sample). The trade paperback bears a sticker tying it to the series. It starts streaming on January 27.


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.”