Every so often, a documentary comes along that seems ripe for feature adaptation, and, as usual, it’s snapped up speedily by studio executives. But for the most part (“Dogtown & Z-Boys” becoming “Lords of Dogtown” being the only exception we can really think of), the remakes never quite make it on to screens — feature version of “The King of Kong,” “Racing Dreams” and many others languish in development hell.
But one project looks to be moving forward with remarkable speed. Ian Palmer’s documentary “Knuckle,” which looks at a long-running family feud among traveling Romany Irish communities, and the brutal bare-knuckled boxing matches that are set up to end it, premiered at Sundance this year to much acclaim, and rights to the project were swiftly snapped up by HBO and Rough House Pictures, the latter being the production company set up by David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jody Hill, the guys behind the brilliant sitcom “Eastbound & Down.” Months have passed, but there’s now some movement, with Deadline revealing that a writer and director for a prospective pilot have been appointed.
The site reveals that Hill himself, who directed most of the episodes to date of “Eastbound & Down” and the feature comedies “The Foot Fist Way” and “Observe & Report,” will helm the pilot, while Scottish writer Irvine Welsh, who was behind the source material for “Trainspotting” and screenplays for “The Acid House” and TV drama “Wedding Belles,” will pen the script. There’s no word on how comedic or otherwise the series would be, or whether it’ll maintain its original setting, but we assume from the talent involved that it’ll be a dark comedy (it’s being described as ‘”Fight Club” meets “Sons of Anarchy“), and from Welsh’s hiring that it’s likely to stay based in Ireland.
Either way, it’s a firmly exciting prospect, yet another killer project at HBO, who seem to go from strength to strength these days. Deadline are also reporting that the network is planning another high-profile project: a new adaptation of “I, Claudius” and “Claudius the God,” the Roman epics by writer Robert Graves, converted in the 1970s into a legendary BBC miniseries starring Derek Jacobi in something of a trademark role. It’s been subject of remake speculation for a while, with Jim Sheridan taking the rights in the middle of the last decade, before Scott Rudin acquired them and hired “The Departed” scribe William Monahan to write a script.
Sheridan and Rudin battled over the rights, with both parties eventually losing interest, which is where HBO have now stepped in, teaming with BBC2 for a new version from the same executive producers that previously looked at the world for the two channels on “Rome.” No talent is currently attached, but knowing HBO, we’re sure some big names will get involved shortly.