How ‘Mrs. Fletcher,’ ‘Unbelievable,’ ‘The Terror: Infamy’ Expand Source Material for Small Screen

Variety | 11/18/2019 | Danielle Turchiano
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When Tom Perrotta sat down to adapt his 2017 novel “Mrs. Fletcher” into a seven-episode limited series of the same name for HBO, he was facing a world that had changed in the way people spoke about gender and sexuality from when he was penning the book. So although he still had a very specific piece of source material from which to draw, he approached the limited series as a new telling and told his writers’ room the book wasn’t to be taken as the “ultimate authority” on the tale.

“I try to be flexible,” Perrotta says, adding that aside from the fact that the world changed post-#MeToo and Time’s Up, simply casting actors and expanding a story to evolve over multiple episodes affects how that story gets told. TV episodes often run longer than the time it would take a reader to consume the original version of the story.

Perrotta - Task - Source - Material - Event

Perrotta is hardly alone with the task he undertook to transform specific source material into a televised event. However, he, at least, had the luxury of being the architect of the original version, a fictional tale of a middle-aged mother who experiments with her sexuality when her son goes off to college. That undoubtedly granted him more freedom to make changes as he saw fit.

For many writers and producers adapting limited series or original TV movies, there are added layers of having to reinterpret someone else’s tale: They have to balance an accurate portrayal and yet be creative for the format.

Opportunity - Television - Sympathy - Characters - Terror

“The opportunity we have in television is that you build a real sympathy for these characters, and you feel what they feel,” says “The Terror: Infamy” showrunner Alexander Woo.

Woo’s anthology drama followed Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II. They were not just facing the complications of having their lives...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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