Wednesday, January 20, 2010

If I Ran HBO

Well, I'd sell my stock options and retire to write books before I bankrupted the place, but let's say I made one decision before I left.

It would be a series. I used to love movies, I used to go all the time but I don't much anymore. Now I prefer the longer story arcs of a good seriesor miniseries. The Sopranos, The Wire, Rome, Deadwood, Band of Brothers - I watched them all on DVD.

Now we have HBO Canada so I'm looking forward to The Pacific (my father-in-law spent a lot of the war in what we used to call Burma with the RCAF):

And I'm really looking forward to this one:

Let’s see, Emmy Award winner Terence Winter (The Sopranos), Martin Scorsese, Steve Buscemi, Gretchen Mol, based on the book by Nelson Johnson, set in Atlantic City during Prohibition, I guess it could be good.

So, the next big one I'd like to see as a series on HBO is this:

Such great characters, everybody from Howard Hughes, J. Edgar Hoover, Nixon, Kennedy (Big Brother and Little Brother), Jimmy Hoffa, movie stars, mobsters, HUAC, COINTELPRO – it’s Hollywood, Washington, Vegas – everything.

I really liked the movie version of LA Confidential but the material in these three books would make for such a great HBO show. Each book could be a ten or twelve episode season.

Let's face it, HBO is losing out to AMC and FX and other cable networks and stuff like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Justified (the one based on Elmore Leonard's Fire in the Hole with US Marshall Raylan Givens) and so on.

So, what do you think? What material would you like to see adapted into a cable TV series?


Eric said...

Don't forget Treme, the new David Simon series about New Orleans coming this spring. If I had any money, this would be a time to subscribe to HBO.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John McFetridge said...

Yes, Treme looks awfully good, too.

Dana King said...

Lehane's THE GIVEN DAY has the scope and multiple character intersecting story lines to make a great season-long show for HBO.

As for combining multiple, related books into a single narrative like in your Ellroy example, your books come to mind. Characters carry over from book to book, and the time line pretty much fits.

Damn it, now I have to consider HBO again. We had it during the runs of THE SOPRANOS, DEADWOOD, THE WIRE, and BAND OF BROTHERS, but by the end of THE WIRE i realized I was paying the premium fee to watch an hour of TV a week. If these shows are going to start to run more or less concurrently, it might be wrth getting again.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I'd like to see them try something set in another country. How about the Arnaldur Indridason books set in Iceland, beginning with Jar City, I think. We are too enamored with North American culture. The British do it although they forgo trying for veracity with accents. Wallender really got on my nerves for that reason.

John McFetridge said...

I'd like to see them show the Swedish version with subtitles (or even dubbed) - or is that just too crazy?

Dana King said...

That's crazy talk. Down here in Baja Canada, we know ain't nothing worthwhile ever happened anywhere's else. And if it was worthwhile, we probably did it first and some immigrant stole it.

Sam said...

Last of the Ninth. David Milch (Deadwood) was going to do a cop show set in the 1970s during the Serpico hearings. The show was going to star Ray Winstone from Sexy Beast and The Departed. A pilot was shot, but apparently it didn't make the cut.

Other than that, I'd agree with the Ellroy, as long as they got someone capable to direct and script, and it wasn't watered down. Nothing is worse than an Ellroy film that misses the point of the source material.

John McFetridge said...

Wow, I'd never even heard of Last of the Ninth.

I see it was written by David Milch and directed by Carl Franklin, a couple of guys who've done some fantastic work.

Looks like we'll never even see the pilot that was shot, too bad.

I also discovered Fox ordered a pilot of LA Cnfidential in 2002 with Kiefer Sutherland in the Kevin Spacey part - that would have been weird.

This site has a lot of info about shows in development.

Mike Dennis said...

Great idea, John. The Ellroy Underworld USA Trilogy would indeed make for several pleasurable years of an outstanding HBO series. The one major stumbling block: Ellroy's rampant political incorrectness. TV networks (even HBO, unfortunately) are absolutely terrified of "offending" anyone. And clipping all the "offensive" material from those novels leaves you with about a page and a half.

Besides, after the isolation of Oliver Stone following "JFK", the entire entertainment and media industries have shown that they have swallowed whole the lone-nut theory of the Kennedy and King assassinations. It's hard to imagine any serious exploration of alternate ideas such as Ellroy's.