Delivered: The Duke and I (Bridgertons # 1) by Julia Quinn (Avon Books, 2000, 384 pages)
Translating a beloved series of books to the screen is not for the faint hearted. “Books have such a rabid audience – with that expectation comes the pressure,” says Bridgerton showrunner Chris Van Dusen. It wasn’t just the distinctive Bridgerton family jokes and steamy romances that weighed on the showrunner. “My self-imposed mandate was to find a way to overturn the traditional genre and create something fresh and topical,” he says. His way of subverting the period piece was to broaden the embrace of those who can be included. “I created the character of Queen Charlotte, which is not in the books,” he says. “There was a theory that Queen Charlotte was England’s first Colored Queen. The show really became a priority for me at that point. For Van Dusen, it was also important that the series’ approach to racing went beyond mere representation. “Simon [Regé-Jean Page] has such an interesting journey with the idea of perfectionism. His father instilled this feeling of having to be twice as good in everything because he’s not what a duke traditionally looks like, ”Van Dusen explains. “His race determines how he went through life, and that adds such a fascinating layer to his character.” While the show is true to the structure of the book series, Van Dusen hopes his vision for the franchise will keep everyone on their toes: “We always knew there were two leads, so it was about to watch each scene and make sure it’s interesting enough for the fans who knew where we were going, but also for those who didn’t.
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The Stewardess (HBO Max)
Delivered: The stewardess by Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday Books, 2018, 354 pages)
When Steve Yockey read Chris Bohjalian’s detective story about a flight attendant who wakes up hungover in a hotel room next to a dead body, he was faced with a dilemma. “On TV, you don’t want to watch someone sit on a bed and think,” Yockey says. “How to take a very internal book and externalize it? Yockey’s idea was to create a spirit palace where the show’s main character, Cassie (played by Kaley Cuoco, also an executive producer), could talk about the affair with the sexy murder victim (Michiel Huisman ). The question was: what would this dialogue look like? “If you take a step back, the events of the book are very dark,” says Yockey. He wanted to inject humor into the TV adaptation. “I love to mix genres, so I didn’t think it was particularly difficult to do it, but it was particularly difficult to convince people that it was going to work.” Now that the series is a real hit, no one doubts this winning recipe, and Yockey is working hard on a second season that goes beyond the end of the book. “Each season is going to take this great character, who doesn’t move the world like the rest of us, and put her in really tough situations,” says Yockey, whose mission remains to exteriorize Cassie’s inner journey. . “At the heart of it all, a woman is forced to realize that she’s been spinning all these plates to distract from her life that’s not going in a positive direction. What does it mean to be honest with yourself? “
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Made for love (HBO Max)
Delivered: Made for love by Alissa Nutting (Ecco Books, 2017, 310 pages)
As co-creators of a show about a woman whose tech CEO husband implants a chip that synchronizes her brain with his, showrunner Christina Lee and Made for love Novelist Alissa Nutting is quick to joke that maybe they’re the ones who have chips implanted in their brains. “We were telepathically synchronized,” says Nutting, who found a partner in Lee who shared his interest in turning the 2017 novel into a female-centric series with dry comedic undertones. It was by keeping the humor in horror that Lee found the collaboration with the author invaluable. “I think that’s why fans of the book feel like he’s a true companion because his voice is everywhere,” Lee said. The biggest challenge Lee and Nutting found as they moved from page to screen was maintaining the uniqueness of the main character. “It’s complicated,” says Lee. “It’s this woman you might think has become the wife of this very powerful tech CEO, but who is really, deep down, rambling. Hazel, in the book, is a bit wild, and Cristin [Milioti] was able to do it on screen. With the tone set, the two are now looking to take their show beyond the end of the book and into the future. “Not only will the themes of love and tech be more and more persistent, but our cast is amazing,” says Nutting. “Seeing what they did with the characters really opened our minds even further to ideas. Certainly Hazel’s journey is not over.
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Mosquito Coast (Apple TV +)
Delivered: Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux (Hamish Hamilton, 1981, 392 pages)
Under no other circumstance would Neil Cross care about an author’s feelings when adapting a novel for the screen. “I have long led an individual campaign to suggest that there is no adaptation. It’s an act of transformation, ”says Cross. “There will always be some form of consensual violence involved. But having been an avid reader of Paul Theroux’s books since the age of 14, disassembling and reassembling the author’s final novel was not something Cross wanted to be a part of. “I even feel weird calling him by his first name,” he said. “He’s one of the most important author voices of my life.” Yet as Cross began to voice his concerns about transforming the story of an inventor who becomes a cult leader a la Jim Jones from the 20th to the 21st century into a series, he found he was developing a fascination with task. “If we’re going to tell Allie [Justin Theroux] story in the here and now, who would this guy be? How do you stay true to this tradition of the American anti-conformist, of rejection? said Croix. “Plus, so many of the narrative choices were driven by the question of who the hell would be married to this guy?” While Cross feels that wrapping up the series – which has just been renewed for season two – anywhere but within the book’s plot lines would be a disservice, what he’s reveling in now is the time it will take to get there: “There are twists and turns and there are side missions. History creates history creates history.
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Delivered: Shrill: Notes of a Loud Woman by Lindy West (Hachete Books, 2016, 272 pages)
With the three-season series now under his belt, Shrill: Notes of a Loud Woman Author Lindy West can confidently say that her transition from novelist to co-creator of series has changed her life. “I don’t think I’ve understood the scope of collaboration before and, if you have the right team, how incredibly rewarding it is to collaborate on this scale,” she says. Protagonist Annie, played by Aidy Bryant, is based on a collection of West’s personal essays, but she opened up her world to the writers and cast of the show who gave the character her own agency. “Once you have a cast, the characters start to grow on their own and project their own storylines,” West explains. “Season two started to be more of its own universe, which was kind of a relief. It’s very, very scary to put all of your most vulnerable moments on a TV show. I don’t totally recommend it. As the tale eventually drifted away from West’s own life, the experience never ceased to be an exercise to expose the nerves to the brim. As an example, West recalls watching the scene on set where Annie talks about how her pregnancy might force a man to give her the love and validation she had always sought, which made West cry. “That kind of intensity and, honestly, the pain is important because we’re creating something that I really believe in. I don’t want fat girls – or any woman – to have to feel like that,” West said. “If we can do something that feels true to people and helps people feel less alone, what else is it for?” “
This story first appeared in a June issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, Click here to subscribe.