If it’s been six months, it must be time for another “Powers” update from FX

Once every six months, I head out to L.A. for the Television Critics Association press tour, and whenever I’m there, I check in with John Landgraf, President and General Manager of FX, to get a status update on the network’s pilot for their adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis’s awesome comic book, “Powers.”

The first time, he said, “It’s in development We’ve seen a draft of the script, we’ve given the notes on it, and we’re waiting on another draft. But I liked it.”

The second time, he said, “We have a new writer who came in and who’s working with Brian Bendis. He’s a really, really good writer who got really excited about the project. The new writer and Brian have got a good take on it. They came in about two months ago and pitched what they were doing, and it was great.”

You’ll no doubt note, as I did, that he didn’t reveal the name of Bendis’s collaborator, but he assured me that he’d tell me the writer’s name as soon as he was permitted to do so…and, to my amazement, he did so a few days later. The new writer turned out to be none other than Kevin Falls, late of NBC’s much-mourned “Journeyman.”

Well, here we are again, sir. What have you got for me this time?

“We’re working on it!” said Landgraf, who – as you might expect – remembered me as soon as I came up to make my bi-annual request for information. “We just had a meeting, actually, with Brian Bendis and Kevin Falls and Michael Dinner, who’s a writer/director, about 10 days ago – just before Comic-Con – and it went great! And a lot of what it is, really, is…Brian, I think, has said this, but the best adaptations are not slavish in the way they translate the adaptation from one medium to another. ‘Powers’ is obviously just a great series of books in and of itself, but a lot of it is how to translate that into the right tone of series. We’ve made headway all along the way; I think we just wanted to put a finer point on it.

“From our standpoint, we don’t feel that the world of costumed superheroes on television has been very successful. Not only hasn’t it been that successful from a commercial standpoint, but more importantly to us, it hasn’t been that successful from a creative standpoint. Part of what you have to figure out is how to use the medium. If you’re making a Marvel movie, you have a $150 or $200 million budget, you can do massive stunts, and use CGI to create a big, bombastic, larger-than-life version of the world. How do we bring the same level of innovation to the genre that ‘The Shield’ brought to the cop genre, or that ‘Nip/Tuck’ brought to the medical genre, and how do make the sort of scale and production of television an asset? I think what most people who’ve gone down that road have done is tried on a limited amount of time and budget to do as close to what a feature film would do with the material as possible, as opposed to really honing in on the virtues of television, and I think ‘Powers’ is a uniquely good property to do that with, actually. That’s what Bendis and (Michael Avon) Oeming were doing: looking through the whole world through a different prism. As opposed to coming through the front door, they were coming through the side door. I’m excited about it.

“We just want to get it right if we move forward,” Landgraf continued, “but the truth is…gosh, I’ve been at the channel for seven years, and we’ve only made one drama pilot in seven years that we haven’t gone to series on. For us, we work really hard and as long as possible on the script, and then we work as hard as we can on getting the pilot exactly right. We don’t make pilots experimentally. Once we move forward on the pilot, we’ve sort of honed in and understand what the creatives are trying to execute and how to help them get there. I hope we’ll be able to move forward with ‘Powers.’ I’m really excited, and I’m very encouraged by the process so far and where it sits now, so I’m pretty optimistic.”

So you might have some good news for me in January, then?

“I might!”

Let’s all keep our fingers crossed tightly for the next six months, shall we?

  

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While I was out…

If anyone out there has noticed my absence over the last few few days, suffice it to say I’ve been dealing with a family emergency and posting by me may remain a bit sporadic over the next several days. However, I’m hoping to keep things close to normal as, fortunately, things seem to be stabilizing somewhat.

Of course, it just so happens that I’ve been pretty seriously distracted just as Sundance was underway and there’s undoubtedly much I’ve missed. Here are just a few items that have caught my attention.

* Our very own Will Harris has been very much on top of story behind an upcoming television adaptation of work by highly regarded comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis. Now, add to that this revelation from Mike Fleming that another Bendis piece will be one of two vehicles that Zac Efron hopes will help him in his quest to perform a Johnny Depp-like -transition from Tiger Beat-style teen fave to respected A-list actor.

* There’s nothing like a bit of controversy to liven things up at a film festival, and this year Sundance is getting a shot of that from, of all things, an adaptation of a classic fifty-eight year old pulp novel. Michael Winterbottom’s reportedly very faithful version of grimness specialist Jim Thompson’s “The Killer Inside Me” was reportedly all too faithful for some. The film apparently features some very brutal beatings of the women in the life of the sociopathic title character played by Casey Affleck. It probably adds to the shock factor that the victims are played by Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson. The Auteurs and Anne Thompson summarize the issues.

thekillerinsideme01-550x366

* On a much lighter note, I take a personal interest in the film “Cyrus” because — back before it even had a name — co-director Mark Duplass discussed it with me right here, when I interviewed him behind his co-starring role in the very funny “Humpday.” The film stars Jonah Hill in what is being touted as something of a breakthrough performance, alongside Marisa Tomei and John C. Reilly. Once again, Anne Thompson is on top of things and has an interview with Mark and his brother Jay, which I promise to watch when I get a moment. (Hey, I haven’t even watched the State of the Union speech yet.)

* I’ve got a solution to this whole question of whether or not we should forgive Mel Gibson. I say everyone who is offended by Mel Gibson’s past statements, etc., should see his movies if they want to, but they should refer to him only as “Sugar Tits.” Indeed, For long as I remember to do it, in these posts, from this point forward, he’ll be Mel “Sugar Tits” Gibson or MSTG, for short. Seems fair to me.

  

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Bendis’s collaborator for FX’s “Powers” pilot revealed

Who says persistence doesn’t pay off?

On Sunday, I spoke with John Landgraf, FX’s President and General Manager, to get the latest update on the network’s attempts to transition Brian Michael Bendis’s “Powers” from comic book to the small screen. Not only did he confirm that the pilot was indeed still in the works, he also let slip that Bendis was now collaborating with an outside writer, describing this other individual as “a really, really good writer who got really excited about the project. The new writer and Brian have got a good take on it. They came in about two months ago and pitched what they were doing, and it was great.” What Landgraf did not tell me was the name of this writer, as he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to release the information yet, but he assured me that he would get in touch with me once he could.

Well, he just did…and, frankly, I couldn’t be much more excited about it. Bendis’s collaborator is none other than Kevin Falls, the man behind NBC’s late, great “Journeyman.” Given how well Falls kept the mythos and storylines of “Journeyman” weaving in and out, he seems like an excellent pick to work on such a complex series as “Powers” is likely to be. I’ve already dropped a line to Mr. Falls’ folks, in hopes of chatting with him about the gig, so keep your fingers crossed just as tightly this time as you did last time. (It worked pretty well, after all.)

What say you? Are you as jazzed as I am…?

  

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More “Powers” talk with FX’s John Landgraf

You may remember that, back in August, I spoke with John Landgraf, FX’s President and General Manager of FX, to get the latest update on the network’s attempts to transition Brian Michael Bendis’s “Powers” from comic book to the small screen. At the time, he could only reconfirm that it was in development, adding, “We’ve seen a draft of the script, we’ve given the notes on it, and we’re waiting on another draft.”

So what’s the latest update? Is “Powers” dead at FX?

It is not.

“We have a new writer who came in and who’s working with Brian Bendis,” Landgraf confirmed. “He’s a really, really good writer who got really excited about the project. He came in, and they pitched us a new take. Because part of what you’re trying to do with ‘Powers’…and I think I said this to you when I talked to you before…is that you have a great property, a really robust property, but it has to be adapted to become a weekly television series. So you’re asking yourself the question, ‘What stays and what goes?’ For example, the Retro Girl murder story: should that whole story be told in the pilot, or do we introduce it and tell it later? But the new writer and Brian have got a good take on it. They came in about two months ago and pitched what they were doing, and it was great.”

Unfortunately, you may have noticed the same thing I did: Landgraf’s pointed avoidance of revealing the name of this “really, really good writer.” Alas, he’s unable to reveal said writer’s name at present, but he assured me that, when he’s able to do, he’ll be in touch. Yeah, I know, that’s what they all say, but since he remembered our discussion from August, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my continued enthusiasm will result in getting the information, so watch this space!

  

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FX’s Landgraf talks “Powers” pilot, possibility of “Riches” movie

After FX’s executive session, I managed to catch up with network president John Landgraf and ask him about the status of the series based on Brian Michael Bendis’s “Powers.” Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much more forward motion since Bendis broke the news about the adaptation during the New York Comic-Con in February.

“It’s in development,” Landgraf reconfirmed. “We’ve seen a draft of the script, we’ve given the notes on it, and we’re waiting on another draft. But I liked it.”

If you’re wondering, Landgraf has read the original source material, and he’s aware of the challenge inherent in transforming it from the page to the tube.

“You saw this also with ‘Watchmen’ when it came out,” he said. “You’re making a property, you’re trying to figure out how to take something from a comic book into a TV show, you’re trying to make something that both satisfies the hardcore fans of the property, the story, and the characters, but also has the ability to introduce a new, broader audience to it. That’s really hard to do. That’s always a struggle, I think, when you’re working with a well-respected graphic novel. So that’s what we’re working on right now.”

Landgraf also spoke to “The Riches,” which he selected as the show during his time with FX that he most wished had taken off, acknowledging that there had indeed been a very real chance for the series to earn a third season.

“The ratings did fall off a lot in Season 2,” Landgraf admitted, “and yet we still thought long and hard. It was a very close choice and a very difficult choice, because it’s hard to say goodbye to that kind of quality. And to see what Dmitri Lipkin has gone on and done with ‘Hung’ on HBO…we knew we had a real talent on our hands, and those are some of the hardest choices that you have to make.”

One suspects it was probably even harder once Eddie Izzard began trumpeting how he was prepared to continue doing “The Riches” for many years to come.

“He was ready,” Landgraf agreed, “and there was a journey for those characters that was a journey that *I* really wanted to see, one that I thought was just a really sound, really inspired idea beyond Season 2…which, unfortunately, was the last one we did. But at the end of the day, we just felt like we had to make room for something else.”

Given that interest, would Landgraf be willing to revisit “The Riches” for an FX movie?

“I would never say never.”

  

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