We were pretty much champing at the bit to see “The Corrections,” an adaptation of the book by Jonathan Franzen, acclaimed by many as one of the greatest Great American Novels of the last couple of decades. Under the shepherding hand of super-producer Scott Rudin, with a home at quality-factory HBO, writer-director Noah Baumbach (“The Squid And The Whale,” “Greenberg“), practically a perfect fit for the material, was bringing it together. And he rounded up a top-flight cast including Chris Cooper, Dianne Wiest, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Greta Gerwig and Rhys Ifans, with the prospect that the show would run for four seasons of ten episodes each.
But sadly, it never came to pass; Baumbach directed a two-hour pilot, and the network liked it, but ultimately thought that it would be too tricky to translate the book’s sprawling, time-hopping narrative into TV form, and passed on the show, leaving it unclear if the pilot will ever see the light of day. And now it’s doubly heartbreaking, because a fascinating bit of potential casting (had the show made it to series) has emerged, which we would have cut off a limb to see come to pass.
Originally, actor/playwright Bruce Norris was announced as playing the role of Gary, the short-tempered, depressed, alcoholic elder brother of the family. But Norris pulled out at the last minute, leaving producer Scott Rudin so enraged that he backed out of financing a Broadway run of Norris’ play “Clybourne Park” (which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony; possibly a lesson on not making decisions in anger). No word emerged on a replacement, and Greta Gerwig told us earlier in the year that “That part actually didn’t come up until the second episode. It’s not in the pilot, so they didn’t have to fill it immediately. I don’t know that they know who’s going to be in it yet. I guess they’re waiting to see if it’s picked up and then they’ll find out.”
But as it turns out, a possibility seemed to have been floated, in the unlikely shape of LCD Soundsystem frontman, producer and DJ James Murphy. Murphy recently made his acting debut in Sundance flick “The Comedy,” as well as starring in the top-notch documentary “Shut Up And Play The Hits,” and, according to the New York Times (via Vulture) had been in talks with Baumbach on scoring the series (the pair worked together on Baumbach’s last feature, “Greenberg“). But it seems that that might not have been his only involvement, as Murphy tells the Grey Lady that “I was potentially going to play Gary, which I was excited about.”
It’s kind of an inspired choice, and one we’d have been entirely fascinated to see, although Murphy self-effacingly says he thinks he might have ended up being beaten out for the role: “I don’t think I was going to get it. Although since it didn’t happen, Noah was like: ‘Just say you got it. We didn’t have another Gary.'” Either way, with HBO passing on the show, it never came to pass. That said, Murphy may have another film-related project in the works, as the Times says that a director friend has asked Murphy to reunite LCD Soundsystem for a cover song on the soundtrack of his new project, and Murphy says that everyone else in the band seems keen to do it.
With Baumbach not having another project immediately in the works, our best guess is that it might be Spike Jonze, who helmed the “Drunk Girls” video for the band (see below), and is currently helming his untitled latest, starring Joaquin Phoenix. But there might well be other possibilities — any guesses? Either way, between that and various musical projects, we shouldn’t mourn the passing of Murphy’s role in “The Corrections” too much, and if you are feeling the loss, you can check out “Shut Up And Play The Hits” when it comes to theaters, for one night only, on July 18th.