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Authors Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman Developing 'Hobgoblin,' HBO Series About Magicians In WW2

by Oliver Lyttelton
March 9, 2011 2:38 AM
3 Comments
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Michael Chabon is, incontestably, one of our favorite working writers. A terrific short-story writer and essayist, he particularly shines in his longer-form work, where he often tinkers with genre tropes, applying them to recent Jewish history to frequently astounding effect, as in "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," "The Yiddish Policeman's Union" and "Gentlemen of the Road."

But the novelist's had a mixed success in Hollywood -- while his early novel "Wonder Boys" was adapted brilliantly by Curtis Hanson a decade ago, his first book "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" received a botched adaptation a few years back. "Kavalier & Clay" and "The Yiddish Policeman's Union" have come close to being made, by Stephen Daldry and the Coen Brothers respectively, but neither have materialized so far, while his screenwriting career mostly involves early, mostly unused drafts on the likes of "Snow and the Seven" and "Spider-Man 2."

Things look to be turning around, however: Chabon co-wrote next year's potential box office behemoth "John Carter of Mars" with "Wall-E" director Andrew Stanton, and now news has come in that the writer, along with his equally talented novelist wife Ayelet Waldman (whose book "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits" was recently adapted into the Natalie Portman vehicle "The Other Woman") are the latest big names to head to HBO.

Variety reports that Chabon and Waldman have sold a pitch to the cable network, entitled "Hobgoblin," which will be produced by former Paramount bosses John Lesher and Adam Kassan through their Le Grisbi production company. While it's slightly unclear, it seems that the project is envisioned as a continuing series, and focuses on a group of magicians and conmen who use their skills to fight Nazis in World War Two -- a plot more than reminiscent of Chabon's masterpiece "Kavalier & Clay," which involves two Jewish kids who create a popular Nazi-battling superhero called "The Escapist."

The pair will write the script together, the first time they've collaborated professionally, and will also serve as executive producers on the project. It's in the very early stages, so we won't see it for some time yet -- particularly with HBO's slate being so packed at the moment, and with the cost of the period piece likely being quite heavy. Nevertheless, it's a killer idea (albeit perhaps more high concept than HBO's usual fare -- not necessarily a bad thing), and one perfectly suited to the writers. We sincerely hope this makes it to series down the line.

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3 Comments

  • Carmen | March 10, 2011 6:18 AMReply

    I wonder if the Coen brothers are still attached to “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union” that was supposed to be their next movie. They could probably make the movie better than the book, I always get the impression that in his novels he failed to accomplish his own ambition. But the show concept is great, HBO is having a great time.

  • Christopher Bell | March 9, 2011 9:03 AMReply

    War Magician was something that Weir was attached to, but pulled out when there were severe allegations against the book's truthfulness.

  • simon | March 9, 2011 3:43 AMReply

    there's a book called the "War Magician", about a Magician called Jasper Maskelyne, who did just that for the British in North Africa.

    I'm sure that they don't have the rights to that, (I think Tom Cruise does), but I'm guessing it's pretty much the same story.

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