TV Surf Report: Hollywood Continues To Adapt (For All Platforms)


{Updated Sept. 26, 2019}

Santa Monica, CA — Thanks to HBO and to the uber-successful Game of Thrones, the Adaptation Trend has been in full-swing for several years now as Hollywood seeks to break through all the clutter with Intellectual Property Titles that audiences are already predisposed to like (and will thereby, tune in).

My favorite new series of 2019 is AMC’s acquisition of SKY TV’s brilliant adaptation of Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches (renewed through S3).

It’s not just popular best-selling books that are being adapted as series, either:

  • Video Games (World-building is a new buzzword!)
  • Podcasts (Did you go to the App Store and Vote for your Favorite?)
  • Magazine & Newspaper Articles (An Evergreen resource!)
  • Songs (Dolly Parton, You Are Talented!)
  • Foreign Series (adapted for the US market)
  • Graphic Novels (about Super Heroes, natch)

  • Ripley (Showtime) Andrew Scott, the Hot Priest from Fleabag (and more importantly, Moriarty from Sherlock) toplines this straight-to-series adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novels. Steve Zallian writes and directs S1’s 8 episodes. Looking forward.
  • The Testaments (Hulu) Margaret Atwood’s hotly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale has been snapped up by Hulu and MGM. Story picks up 15 years later. Meanwhile, Handmaid’s Tale was renewed for S4.
  • Love Me (ABC) Elizabeth Banks produces this drama pilot based on the format of Welcome to Sweden, whereby for the US markets, story centers on a multi-generational Chicago family searching for love in the Age of Social Media.
  • Circe (HBO Max) The book by Madeline Miller about the Greek mythological witch gets an 8-episode series order. Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver script for Chernin Entertainment. Feminist Greek mythology? I’m in!
  • Dangerous Liaisons (STARZ) Harriet Warner (Call the Midwife, Tell Me Your Secrets) adapts this well known novel, a tale of sex, seduction and intrigue that has already been made into several films (Cruel Intentions, Valmont, anyone?). Colin Callender and Tony Krantz produce for Lionsgate. This 8-episode series seems right in Starz’ wheelhouse. Expect a well-made hit.
  • The Old Man (FX) Jeff Bridges stars and EPs this adaptation of the novel by Thomas Perry which tells the story of a CIA operative living of the grid but forced to reconcile his past after an assassin is sent to kill him. Sounds cool. Jason Bourne AARP.
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hulu) Carlton Cuse (Jack Ryan, Lost) adapts Douglas Adams’ novels which began as a BBC radio play. Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman) scripts.
  • 100 Days to Fall in Love (Showtime) Paramount TV adapts this Argentinean comedy for the US market. I don’t recall seeing a show from Argentina before getting the re-make treatment. Someone’s paying attention to the global marketplace at Paramount and Viacom International which produces.
  • Magic: The Gathering (Netflix) Those darn Russo Bros. are adapting a card game for TV. Yes, an animated series based on a card game about superheroes with magic.
  • Jack Reacher (Amazon) Lee Child’s action thriller spy novels get adapted for TV following two features starring Tom Cruise.  Nick Santora (Scorpion) scripts.
  • The Lincoln Lawyer (CBS) Okay, here is a successful match of book and writer:  David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies, LA Law, The Practice, Harry’s Law, Goliath) adapts Michael Connelly’s best-selling novel about a lawyer who operates out of his Lincoln Continental automobile. CBS is absolutely the right network, too. Expect a big star to attach soon. Series order.
  • The Stand (CBS All Access) James Marsden set to star in this 10-episode adaptation of Stephen King’s novel. Josh Boone (The Fault In Our Stars) EPs with Ben Cavell (Justified, Homeland).
  • Langdon (NBC) Best-selling author Dan Brown’s symbologist sleuth Robert Langdon gets a younger version adaptation for broadcast TV. Sorry, Tom Hanks, but you are too damn old for the 18-49 crowd. We’ll always have The Da Vinci Code.  Imagine TV produces. Series will be a prequel of sorts and is based on the story in Brown’s The Lost Symbol, which is a fun DC caper that follows Brown’s successful formula of having Langdon on the run with a beautiful woman. Expect lots of Masons! Production commitment. Daniel Cerrone (Constantine) EPs.
  • Over My Dead Body (Warner Media Streaming) Elizabeth Banks produces and directs this series adaptation of a podcast about the trials and tribulations of a married couple whose relationship is chronicled from the NY Times engagement announcement through their marriage, divorce, and murder trial. Sounds cool.
  • Pachinko (Apple TV) Min Jin Lee’s novel chronicles four generations of Korean immigrants and will be told in three different languages:  Korean, Japanese, and English. Interesting! Soo Hugh (The Terror) scripts and EPs.
  • Time Bandits (Apple TV) Terry Gilliam’s film gets adapted for TV by none other than Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnorak) who will write and direct the pilot.  Looking forward!
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude (Netflix) Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ novel about seven generations of the Buendia Family and the utopian town they inhabit finally gets adapted. This is a big get!
  • Heart of Life (ABC) is inspired by the John Mayer song and centers on two sets of adult siblings who discover they share the same father. I think we’re very much in This Is Us territory here. Pilot order. Harry Shum Jr. (Crazy Rich Asians) set to star. Ben Queen (Powerless) scripts.
  • Lincoln (NBC) Jeffrey Deaver’s book which was adapted for film and became The Bone Collector starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie, now becomes a TV series about an injured forensic criminologist called back into service to catch the serial killer responsible for injuring him. Of course, he’s paired with a young female beat cop.  Yawn. Bored now.
  • Four Weddings And A Funeral (Hulu) Mindy Kaling  adapts Mike Newell’s popular British film for the streaming audience.
  • My Glory Was I Had Such Friends at Apple. J.J. Abrams and Jennifer Garner produce/star in this 13-episode adaptation of Amy Silverstein’s memoir about her circle of women friends who helped her as she waited for a life-saving transplant. Premieres in late 2019.
  • The Watch at BBC America. Based on the Discworld novels by Sir Terry Prachett (Good Omens), eight episodes of the punk rock thriller with misfit cops have been ordered.
  • Joyland at Freeform. Stephen King’s novel about a college student working a summer job at an amusement park gets adapted for a pilot. Chris Pena (Jane the Virgin) scripts.
  • It Takes Two at FOX. The memoir of Property Brothers, the home improvement reality series with the photogenic twin brother contractors is being adapted as a half-hour comedy. Cue obnoxious laugh track! Daily Variety Has The Scoop.
  • Ranger at CBS. The novel by James Patterson gets adapted for pilot development.
  • Dracula at BBC One and Netflix. The Sherlock maestros, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, adapt Bram Stoker’s classic novel into three 90-minute episodes (or movies). I’m in!
  • Whites at NBC. Matt Tarses adapts the British restaurant workplace comedy for Will Arnett and the US audience.
  • Limetown at Facebook Watch. Based on a podcast about a Pulic Radio reporter who investigates the disappearances of hundreds of people in Tennessee, Jessica Biel (The Sinner) stars. Ten episodes ordered. Deadline Has The Details.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia at Netflix. This seems like a big deal to me as these books are evergreen stories that can be re-made for each generation. Seems like Netflix aims to create a Narnia Universe and create series from there while making features from the main titles. Am a bit surprised Disney/Fox allowed the option on these books to lapse. Smart buy, Netflix.
  • Wheel of Time at Amazon.  Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) set to topline this series order for this action fantasy drama adaptation of Robert Jordan’s best-selling books, wherein, Magic exists, but only women can wield it. Rafe Judkins (Agents of Shield) writes and EPs for Amazon Studios and Sony Pics TV.
  • His Dark Materials at BBC One and HBO. HBO Acquires Broadcast Rights Outside The UK, per Deadline.  Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) directs this massive TV adapation of Philip Pullman’s fantasy novels with a cast that includes James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Dafne Keen (Logan). Production is underway in Wales on S1. Meanwhile, the BBC Orders 2nd Season of 8 Episodes.
  • Foundation at Apple TV.  David S. Goyer (DaVinci’s Demons, Krypton) and Josh Friedman (Snowpiercer, Sarah Conner Chronicles) get 10 episodes to adapt Isaac Asimov’s SF trilogy about the 1000-year saga of people defying the Galactic Empire. Hmm. I wonder if George Lucas read these books prior to Star Wars. Just a thought!
  • Run Away at Netflix. Adaptation of Harlan Coben’s novel and part of an overdeal that encompasses 14 of Coben’s books.  He has two other series on Netflix:  Safe starring Michael C. Hall (Dexter) and No Second Chance.
  • Shogun at FX. A new adaptation of James Clavell’s novel gets a 10-episode order.
  • Hey There Delilah at TBD.  The Plain White Ts’ hit tune is headed to TV. I love this song and am not discounting this effort. Oh, what you do to me!  Songs That Should Be Adapted For TV, via EW
  • The Vampire Chronicles at Hulu. Anne Rice, Christopher Rice and Anonymous Content exec produce this series based on 11 of Rice’s Vampire Chronicles books which center on Lestat who becomes a vampire in medieval Paris and continues a long journey of immortality with stops along the way as a rock star, an otherworldly adventure with The Devil, and a body snatching. Looking forward! Shoots in September.


  • Halo at Showtime. 10-episode series order for this popular video game from Microsoft with Amblin producing this futuristic conflict. Kyle Killen scripts and EPs with Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) set to direct. Pablo Schreiber (American Gods) set to star.
  • Watchmen at HBO. Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers, Lost) delves back into the Alan Moore graphic novel source material and assembles a stellar cast of Super Heroes that includes Jeremy Irons, Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Don Johnson, and Louis Gossett, Jr. Nicole Kassell (The Leftovers) directed the pilot. Series order. Interestingly, Lindelof says his take is more “remix” than adaptation of the graphic novel with some new characters to explore.  More world-building! Damon Lindelof Loves A Sad Ending – New York Public Library Interview
  • The Lord of the Rings at Amazon. Warner Bros. TV is producing a prequel series adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic novels set in Middle Earth.  Per Rotten Tomatoes, the series timeline take place in The Second Age of Middle Earth.  Am thinking we will see lots of Sauron, the Three Rings of the Elves, and those darn Ring Wraiths and the Nine Kings who were betrayed! Sounds good to me. Writers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay (Star Trek 4, Jungle Cruise) are developing the story. J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) is set to direct the first two episodes of this multiple-season series commitment. Not Ready Until 2021!
  • I Know This Much Is True at HBO.  Mark Ruffalo stars in and EPs this 8-hour miniseries adaptation of the Wally Lamb best-selling novel, playing dual roles (Loved It!).  Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) writes and directs. High hopes for this one.

N E X T   U P:

Planting A Garden And Watching It Grow Is Better Than Anything On TV


About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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