Charlie Kaufman‘s been a very busy bee recently. It’s almost exactly four years since “Synecdoche, New York” premiered at Cannes, and for a long time, there was little-to-no news as to what the writer-director, who made his name penning the screenplays for “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” was up to. But the news that he’d done a polish on the script for “Kung Fu Panda 2” (which ultimately showed little evidence of the Kaufman touch) kicked off a run of activity.
First, he was said to be reteaming with Spike Jonze for a dark comedy set at a G8-style conference of world leaders (a film ultimately supplanted by Jonze’s own project, but which may yet resurface). Then came his own film, “Frank or Francis,” a gonzo Hollywood musical satire with a cast including Jack Black, Steve Carell, Nicolas Cage and Kevin Kline. And most recently, he’d been pegged by Lionsgate to adapt young-adult novel “Chaos Walking: The Knife Of Never Letting Go,” in the hope that it might turn out to be the next “Hunger Games.” Oh, and he’s only gone and written a novel as well.
And now, there’s one more project to add to the list, albeit in a different medium: like so many filmmakers, from Martin Scorsese to Michael Mann, Kaufman’s being tempted into the television world, with Deadline reporting that he’s set up a project that he would both write and direct at HBO. The series, which sparked a bidding war, is described as a half-hour comedy that serves as “an exploration of one day in a woman’s life and how the events leading up to it can affect, or not, the reality in which she lives,” Yep, that sounds like Charlie K.
And what’s more, Kaufman is bringing one of his longest-serving collaborators along, as Catherine Keener, who starred in “Being John Malkovich,” cameo-ed in “Adaptation” and is attached to appear in “Frank or Francis,” will play the lead role, her first serious venture into television in a couple of decades (her last appearance on a TV series was on a “Seinfeld” episode in 1992). The actress will also produce the show, while Kaufman will serve as executive producer. It’s unclear if it’ll go to pilot first, or if it’s been ordered straight to series, but either way, this is another impressive feather in the cap for HBO. We’d worried that this might mean curtains for “Frank or Francis,” but Deadline still says that’s Kaufman’s next project, while this still seems to be in development; presumably, this’ll move forward once that, and his writing obligations on “The Knife Of Never Letting Go,” are wrapped up.