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Old 12 November 2014, 10:04 PM
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Cheer Interstellar's’ Jonah Nolan Developing ‘Foundation’ Series for HBO

HBO and Warner Bros. TV are teaming to produce a series based on Isaac Asimov's “Foundation” trilogy that will be written and produced by “Interstellar” writer Jonathan Nolan.


http://www.thewrap.com/interstellars...btv-exclusive/

As a huge fan of Isaac Asimov, and of his Foundation series, I'm excited, but also apprehensive about how this will work out. It will be interesting to see how they approach and deal with the trilogy's epic, almost titanic scale.

Looks like I'll need to get my collection back out and read them again. That will be a pleasant task.
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Old 12 November 2014, 10:41 PM
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Could be exciting if they give it the full big budget Game of Thrones treatment. I don't think they could do the Foundation series justice in a film, but 50 hours of high grade television might work.

A lot of major events in the series happen "off camera", so they would have to flesh things out quite a bit. Make it suitable for a visual medium by interpolating battles and major events that were only indirectly described in passing. Act out things that were just a historical backdrop between chapters. Flesh out important characters that the books didn't focus on into full point of view characters, etc. You can't really film this series without major adjustments, but HBO has a good track record so far, so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise.

One thing that really gives me pause though is the timeline jumps. Every single other major, successful drama series that I can think has a core cast of actors that it relies heavily on. Will the producers really be willing and able to drop that whole paradigm for massive time jumps with mostly all new casts? My cynicism says they might try to shoehorn it into something more formulaic and try to tell a version of the series that is stuck in a limited window of time and place, which would of course kill the whole concept and turn it into an unrecognizable sci-fi series with only a tenuous connection to the source material.

It wouldn't be a first for Asimov adaptations to go down that road. "I, Robot"? What the hell. They did a reasonably straightforward adaptation with Bicentennial Man, and it was a huge bomb. It's asking a lot to film a Foundation adaptation that is both watchable and recognizable as the Foundation series. I think it should be possible, just hard, so lets hope they figured it out somehow.

I'm more impressed by his Memento credit than Interstellar, since Foundation will require creative, not entirely linear storytelling, and Interstellar has kind of an annoying New Agey aspect. But at least Interstellar proves that he can work well with visual effects. Foundation is going to need a crap ton of CGI cityscapes, planets, ships.
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Old 13 November 2014, 03:30 AM
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Looking over over the outlines of the original trilogy of books, it seems like around 1.5 of the books, the latter half of the first 3 books, all take place in a similar time period. So that's a good chunk of time that they could use the same cast, but it follows a long buildup with more than a season worth of material that would require several different casts. Given how screenwriters like to stick to formula, I'm worried they'd try to truncate by skipping straight to the part with a fixed cast. But it's the earlier part that really makes the series stand out, and if they just drop us into the future time period and try to contain the series there that would be a real let down.

I think the right way to do it would be to have a couple of seasons with constantly changing casts, moving through different time periods every few episodes, or even every episode in some cases. Then have a couple of seasons with a relatively stable cast that cover events in the time period of the latter half of the trilogy. Then they could either wrap it up or if they still have momentum and ratings there's plenty of potential to move on to the 4th and 5th books or something else.

The first couple of seasons would be somewhat comparable to Doctor Who in structure, with very different settings and characters almost every episode, with some common threads tying them together. The next couple would be a more conventional drama with characters built up in greater depth.

But I can't think of many shows that have been willing to tinker with their basic structure so much between seasons. Hopefully the rise of successful seasonal anthology shows like True Detective and American Horror Story may make them more willing to be experimental with the format.
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Old 13 November 2014, 03:49 AM
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I think HBO is probably going to be more willing to do things differently cast-wise than other networks are, since they've had no problems with killing off characters in Game Of Thrones.

With guarded enthusiasm, I'm hoping for the best, but trying my best not to get my hopes up too high.

Given the scope of the books, it's not surprised me that no one's been willing, until now, to tackle this project.
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Old 13 November 2014, 06:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
(Note: I have edited out Mr Nolan's "colorful" remarks.)
Quote:
“Well, I ******* love the ‘Foundation’ novels by Isaac Asimov. They're certainly not [unknown], but that's a set of books I think everyone would benefit from reading. That's a set of books where the influence they have is just ******* massive.
Well, that makes me much more optimistic. I first read this story on /Film and here's how they quoted him:
Quote:
Well, I ******* love the ‘Foundation’ novels by Isaac Asimov —they’re certainly not well-known, but that’s a set of books I think everyone would benefit from reading. That’s a set of books where the influence they have is just ******* massive;
Completely different! I hope that the the quote from IndieWire, which the OP quotes, is the right one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
Given the scope of the books, it's not surprised me that no one's been willing, until now, to tackle this project.
From the article you linked to:
Quote:
Sony Pictures acquired “Foundation” in a multi-studio auction back in 2009 and attached Roland Emmerich to direct and produce. Two years later, the studio hired Dante Harper (“Akira”) to adapt the books. When the project failed to materialize, HBO spent big bucks to acquire the property when it became available earlier this summer.
The aborted Roland Emmerich version wasn't the first attempt either. From Variety dated 26 June 2000 (emphasis mine):
Quote:
Fox, meanwhile, has optioned Asimov’s most popular novel series, “Foundation,” for Shekhar Kapur to direct, and acquired “I, Robot”; John Davis will produce the latter, with Wyck Godfrey exec producing.
{ snip }
Attempts have been made to adapt the series before, but Fox, led by execs Hutch Parker and Emma Watts, has found a helmer in Kapur who believes the sprawling tale can be boiled down into a feature film.
From Wikipedia:
Quote:
By 1998, New Line Cinema had spent $1.5 million developing a film version of the Foundation Trilogy. The failure to develop a new franchise was partly a reason the studio signed on to produce The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
From Entertainment Weekly dated 23 July 1993:
Quote:
And TriStar chairman Mike Medavoy is enthusiastic about such in-the-works F/X projects as Godzilla and Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy.
I need more time to research but I'm pretty sure there were attempts in the '70s and '80s too. So, this has been in development hell for a very long time.

And finally, a bit of caution from the OP article:
Quote:
Representatives for HBO and WBTV had no comment, while a representative for Nolan didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
So, don't hold your breath.

Brian
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