February 17, 2016
Scratch The Corrections—Jonathan Franzen’s Purity to be adapted for TV
by Kait Howard
Only five months after Purity was published, Jonathan Franzen may reignite the vitriol of his critics by collaborating on a major television adaptation of his widely praised and widely maligned novel.
Variety’s Cynthia Littleton reports that “multiple bidders—including Showtime, Netflix and others—are in talks for a big commitment to a limited series starring Daniel Craig in an adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s novel…to be produced by Scott Rudin and written by Todd Field and Franzen. Field is also set to direct.”
“Given the auspices, the project generated significant heat and multiple bidders. Industry sources said producers were seeking a 20-episode order. Sources cautioned that the talks were early and the project could land at any outlet.”
For those experiencing déjà vu, this isn’t the first time Rudin has seen television potential in Franzen. You might remember that his plans for an HBO adaptation of The Corrections, to be written and directed by Noah Baumbach, with help from Franzen, was pulled when, according to Baumbach, the book was deemed “too complex to turn into TV,” both from monetary and creative perspectives.
Field, who has adapted works by Andre Dubus (In the Bedroom) and Tom Perrota (Little Children), knows firsthand how difficult it can be to translate literature for the screen—he abandoned working on a film version of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, prompting assertions by those like Brad Brevet at Comingsoon.net that there is “no chance” the book “can be brought to the big screen and possibly keep its tone.” (The multi-talented James Franco begged to differ).
For whatever reason, Field must be convinced that Franzen’s “panoramic” story of a young woman looking for her father who finds a father figure in a Julian Assange-like character is more easily adapted. Which is great for Franzen, who could be looking for another season of media nourishment following lower-than-expected-but-still-incredible sales of Purity.
Kait Howard is a publicist at Melville House.