While the multiplexes increasingly become a place to house event movies and continue to enable the infantilization of moviegoers' taste -- 3D spectaculars, toy franchises, Michael Bay movies, etc. -- HBO is happy to write checks for big name talent.
For Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann, Todd Haynes, Barry Levinson, Steven Soderbergh (in terms of his recently announced Liberace pic "Behind The Candelabra") and Noah Baumbach, HBO is the new refuge for auteurs trying to tell human-scale stories (even yesterday, Alexander Payne related an anecdote about a venerable director who told him he was "lucky" to be making dramas on the big screen).
And so eager is HBO to finance dramas by celebrated filmmakers, the ease with which they facilitate such projects means they get first dibs. Case in point is Noah Baumbach ("Greenberg," "The Squid & The Whale"), who is now adapting Jonathan Franzen's lauded 2001 novel "The Corrections" for producer Scott Rudin and HBO. He had been working on two feature-length projects, an adaptation of the novel "The Emperor's Children" and "While We're Young," but with financing and casting schedules causing issues, his HBO detour will come first (indeed, he's exited the former project now taken over by "Crazy Heart" director Scott Cooper).
Falling somewhere between drama and satire and centering on the various stories of a dysfunctional and repressed Midwestern family spending one last Christmas together, "The Corrections" had two actors join the cast as of yesterday, as the stern patriarch suffering from dementia and the loyal matriarch of the family: Oscar winners Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest, respectively. Both Anthony Hopkins and Donald Sutherland were said to be circling the father role in this HBO
film series as well, but with Cooper nabbing the part, we assume they're out of the project now. While the series has not yet formally achieved a green light, it is (obviously) moving full steam ahead. Baumbach will direct the pilot ep and co-wrote the adaptation with Franzen. It's unclear how many episodes it will need, but we expect something like Todd Haynes' five-part "Mildred Pierce" if not longer (whether Baumbach directs more than just the pilot is unknown at the moment).
Three adult children have yet to be cast: the eldest son Gary, a successful but depressed, alcoholic banker living in Philadelphia; the middle child, Chip, a Marxist academic disgraced from his tenure now working for a Lithuanian crime boss; and the youngest, Denise, a successful Philadelphian chef with her own romantic problems. In 2002, Rudin, director Stephen Daldry and screenwriter David Hare tried to make “The Corrections” over at Paramount, and it never came to pass, but obviously Rudin never gave up on the project. [Deadline]