Hitting Screens, Week of April 17, 2017

The adaptation of David Grann’s The Lost City of Z debuted in just four theaters over the weekend, but it made plenty of noise with critics who are raving about it (the one hold out is the Wall Street Journal‘s critic). It expands to 400 theaters this coming weekend.

Two small screen adaptations make their debuts in the coming week.

9780804190107_26921HBO’s 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. Rose Byrne (Damages) plays Skloot. Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton) plays Henrietta and Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) plays con artist Sir Lord Keenan Kester Cofield. The Broadway superstar and Tony winning George C. Wolfe (Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk) wrote the screenplay and directs.

Winfrey tells the NYT that she took the role because she wanted to work with the director, “Audra McDonald said, ‘It will change your life and change you as an actress to work with George.’ And she’s right. He was the person who was able to take a script that felt overridden by the science and re-adapt that into a story about a woman in search of her identity through her mother. That’s why it happened.”

The Baltimore Sun praises Winfrey’s performance, saying she “plays the role sky-high, wide open and without a safety net.”

Anticipation for the series has brought the book back on to best seller lists after a brief absence. It is currently #6 on the NYT Paperback Nonfiction list. The tie-in was released two weeks ago, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Movie Tie-In Edition), Rebecca Skloot (PRH/Broadway Books; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

9780316469708_0f5dbAlso coming to TV is Famous in Love, an adaptation of Rebecca Serle’s 2014 novel of the same name. It will air on Freeform, reports Deadline Hollywood, following Pretty Little Liars.

Bella Thorne (The DUFF) plays Paige, a college student who becomes a major Hollywood star and It Girl almost overnight. Kirkus said the book was a “frothy but not frivolous … wish fulfillment for any teen who wants to feel the thrill of celebrity and love.”

The A.V. Club reports that Marlene King (who created Pretty Little Liars) and Serle worked on the scripts together.

The show start on April 18th at 9 p.m.

Tie-in: Famous in Love, Rebecca Serle (Hachette/Poppy; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).

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