September 7, 2014
Novelists form TV production company to make the circle of books and television even flatter
by Liam O’Brien
In the very manly race to become the next Nic Pizzolatto minus the alleged plagiarism, a few novelists have joined forces to form a new TV production company expressly to help other novelists adapt books to series. As reported in Variety, the newly formed company christened “El Jefe” is composed of three Michener Fellows; 20-under-40 member Philipp Meyer (American Rust, The Son), Brian McGreevey (Hemlock Grove), and Lee Shipman (McGreevey’s producing partner on the Hemlock Grove TV show). El Jefe is bankrolled by Slingshot Global Media, itself an arm of equity mammoth TPG.
In a Q&A for the LA Times, McGreevey went further into depth on the team’s plan to synthesize publishing and TV:
“There is, in our experience, a profound culture gap between the publishing industry and the film industry, thus creating obstacles that are not inherently necessary to high quality minds who might otherwise be interested in the medium. As there are more than enough inherently necessary obstacles (money and timing chief among them), it is our goal to create an environment run and driven by artists. Calling it “El Jefe” is aspirational — we want to help people take a more dynamic approach to how their work is handled rather than hand it off and sort of hope for the best.”
The trio has already announced plans to adapt Meyer’s debut novel as well as Wil Hylton’s WWII history book Vanished; no word on whether El Jefe’s formation will hasten or delay Meyer’s previously announced adaptation of The Son for AMC. Though I imagine it’ll be pretty hard for Meyer to effectively run his portion of company while still butchering his preferred amount of deer.
Best case scenario, we can expect a new crop of artful and edgy literary entertainment over the next few years. Likely it’ll be developed for premium cable channels or Netflix so that the requisite swearing and sex gore can air uncensored, but then again you never know.
Liam O’Brien is the Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.