By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com March 4, 2011 at 2:18AM
There have been some interesting debates in the last few weeks as to whether TV has surpassed film as the natural home for grown-up, dramatic storytelling. Scott Rudin told GQ as much a few weeks back, telling Mark Harris that "...for all those people who spent years trying to get movies made at all the companies that are now gone, there's now one place to work where you can get respectfully treated and fairly judged... HBO."
The A.V. Club had an interesting rebuttal earlier this week, arguing that the commercial success of films like "Inglourious Basterds," "District 9," 'True Grit," "The Social Network," "Black Swan" and "Inception" mean the movies can't be counted out yet, but either way, there's an impressive wealth of riches on TV these days, more so than ever before, and bigger and bigger names keep becoming involved in TV series -- Michael Mann and Martin Scorsese, to name just two.
Now, two very big names are re-teaming for a TV project, and we're as excited about this as any of its stablemates. The Hollywood Reporter brings news that Kevin Spacey will star in a pilot for "House of Cards," based on the book and six-part 1990 BBC mini-series of the same name. Furthermore, David Fincher will direct the pilot, marking the third collaboration between the two, after Spacey starred in "Se7en" and executive-produced "The Social Network" and the two will executive-produce the show, along with the writer of the pilot, Beau Willimon, who was also behind "Farragut North," the play that served as the basis of George Clooney's upcoming "The Ides of March."
The original series followed Francis Urquhart, a Conservative MP played indelibly by the late, great Ian Richardson, as he plotted, blackmailed and murdered his way to becoming Prime Minister. Two sequels, "To Play The King" and "The Final Cut," followed, which detailed Urquhart's rivalry with a new British King, and the unravelling of his career respectively. The show will be transposed to the U.S. (the series was previously announced a few years back, with "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" writer Eric Roth on board in place of Willimon) -- an educated guess would see Spacey's character as a Congressman making his way to becoming Majority leader.
The series is being backed by Media Rights Capital, and isn't currently set up at a network, although we imagine there'll be a fierce bidding war, considering the talent attached. It's unclear whether the show is intended for network TV or cable, but we imagine the latter is far more likely, considering Spacey's theater commitments in the second half of this year (he's playing Richard III for Sam Mendes, which has already ruled him out of Mendes' Bond flick).
The series marks the continuing TV debuts for both Fincher and Spacey, although they've flirted with the medium in the recent past: the director was developing an HBO series about criminal profiling with Charlize Theron, while Spacey was attached at one point for a drama about a cult leader for the same channel, created by Rod Lurie.
We imagine it'll go before cameras once Spacey's done with Richard, and Fincher with "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," so we wouldn't expect this on screens before the end of 2012 at the earliest. Still, it's an incredibly exciting prospect -- the original is gripping, if sometimes over the top, it's firmly in Fincher's wheelhouse, and Spacey's perfect casting for the character, whose Machiavellian scheming is based on both Richard III and Macbeth. Just no one let him sing.