Sunday Samples- December 4

November has come and gone and with it arrives the first Sunday Samples in December. Hard to believe how fast December has rolled around this year, feels as if we’ve barely gotten started!

Lots has happened in the adaptation world recently:

Fans of classic Disney film Newsies will be delighted to learn that the musical is now coming to Broadway in a special limited engagement from March-June 2012. Tickets go on sale 30 January 2012. The 1992 Disney movie is based on a true 1899 story about newspaper-selling children fighting corporations. The film was a cult hit among 90s children, who later grew up to form their own movement with Occupy Wall Street. With the Occupy Wall Street movement raging on, it’s perfect timing for a Newsies revival.

Spooky TV shows are all the rage these days, with hit show American Horror Story pulling huge numbers  (not an adaptation as far as I’m aware). NBC wants to join the fun with their remake of 1960s classic comedy The Munsters. Bryan Fuller will be penning the pilot which will be a one hour drama decidedly darker than its predecessor. Fuller is the creator behind beloved cult hit Pushing Daisies, so I have no doubt he’ll bring his own brand of weird to the series.

My recent post on foreign language adaptations mentions hit show Homeland based on Israeli series Hautfim. In The Hollywood Reporter, showrunner Alex Ganza discusses the creation of Homeland as well as announcing an Indian version of  his show 24. Anil Kapoor, who played the Iranian president in the last season of 24, will be Jack Bauer in the Indian version. I hope it’s a Bollywood version. Can you imagine Bauer singing and dancing away the terrorists? On a more serious note, India is an ideal setting for a show like 24 with its diverse population and religious tensions permeating the political arena.

As the world braces itself for the upcoming film release of book adaptation trilogy The Hunger Games, another science-fiction book series starring children is coming to movie theatres near you. The US film rights for Orson Scott Card’s popular 1985 novel Ender’s Game were bought in April 2011 by Summit Entertainment. Gary Hood is set to direct and Asa Butterfield has been offered the lead role Ender Wiggin. The story involves gifted children of the future who are recruited to fight aliens in an intergalactic game. Ashamed to say I have not read either book but I will be adding them to my growing list. If the anticipation surrounding these two films are any indication, it may be time to polish that YA science-fiction/fantasy adaptation script or novel you have in your drawer.

Popular 1980s children’s book series Sweet Valley High is being adapted for feature film release. The books revolve around identical twin sisters Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield and their various dramas as they navigate high school life. Diablo Cody (Juno) is penning the screenplay and claims that it will be a nostalgic tribute to the series. The book series received a TV adaptation in the 1990s, with a series running from 1994-1997. Just another 90s pop culture item getting exploited for nostalgic young adults. I wonder if the Olsen twins will consider taking the roles for their big comeback. Two nostalgic items in one movie? Producers better jump on that train.

Scandinavian crime fiction has been hot for the last few years, gaining international audiences after the explosion of The Girl with  the Dragon Tattoo series. Naturally, Hollywood has been on the hunt for the next hot Scandinavian property. Famed director Martin Scorsese has chosen Norwegian author Jo Nesbo’s novel The Snowman as one of his next projects. The film will be the first US adaptation of Nesbo’s work. Matthew Michael Carnahan (World War Z) is writing the screenplay. The novel features anti-hero detective Harry Hole who investigates a mysterious serial killer in Oslo who likes to leave snowmen outside victims houses. I found the novel a bit snoozeworthy overall but there are some great visuals. No word yet on potential stars but I wouldn’t be surprised if Scorsese favorite Leonardo DiCaprio is considered.

On 17 November 2011, mystery lovers in NYC got a sneak preview of TV movie adaptation Innocent. The movie, based on the Scott Turow novel, launches TNT’s Mystery Movie Night series. Turlow’s new.  TNT’s new series will air five other films, all adapted from murder mystery novels written by famous writers. Innocent premiered on Tuesday, 29 November 2011 at 9 pm. Sounds like the event was a lot of fun, with guests receiving gift swag and mingling with actors. Anyone want to send me a crime tape scarf or official detective notebook?

Australian publication The Age brings us a fascinating article about opera and the adaptation process. Writer Patricia Maunder shares the startling statistic that 85% of all operas are literary adaptations. According to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, operatic literary adaptations have risen since World War II in an attempt to make opera appeal to a wider audience. Of Mice and Men, an adaptation based on the John Steinbeck novel, is the latest to grace the Melbourne stage. The classic novel is beautifully tragic as it explores masculinity in the Great Depression so I am quite curious to see its operatic treatment. If you’re lucky enough to live Down Under, Opera Australia is staging Of Mice and Men from November 26 to December 10.

China Daily reports a modern dance adaptation of 16th-century Chinese novel, Jin Ping Mei (The Golden Lotus). This novel is notorious for being one of the most erotic novels in China’s history, banned for its explicit sex. The novel revolves around Ximen Qing and his many lovers. Choreographer Wang Yuanyuan focused her adaptation on the women and their emotions. The article goes on to talk about the adaptation process and the many challenges that both Wang and her dancers faced in performing the piece. The dance was commissioned for the Hong Kong Arts Festival in March and sold out during its four day performance. However, the dance may never reach mainland China due to its taboo subject matter. I hope Wang is able to get The Golden Lotus commissioned for international festivals as it sounds gorgeous.

The Seattle Times has an interesting interview with director Alexander Payne (Sideways, Election) as he discusses the adaptation process on his latest film The Descendents. Payne’s new film is based on the 2007 novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings. The novel is about a middle-aged man and his two daughters who must come together after the wife falls in a coma following a boating accident in Hawaii. In a refreshing change of pace, Payne discusses Hemmings’ heavy involvement in the process of creating the script. George Clooney is starring in the adaptation which is reason enough to check out this new film.

That concludes this week’s Sunday Samples. Tune in next week for more adaptations in the news.

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