“Salinger,” a documentary portrait of “Catcher in the Rye” author J. D. Salinger directed by Shane Salerno (screenwriter of “Armageddon” and “Savages”), is headed to PBS. Deadline reports that the public broadcasting network will air the doc as the 200th episode of “American Masters” in January of 2014 — the theatrical rights have yet to be sold.
The film is Salerno’s first as a director since “Sundown: The Future of Children and Drugs,” which he made in 1991 while still in high school. (Salerno told the LA Times in 2002 that after “Sundown” he told his mother that “if we don’t go to L.A. now, I’m going to end up in San Diego making documentaries for PBS and I want to do more than that.”)
The deal’s unusual in that most of the “American Masters” episodes are made in house — recent installments include “Inventing David Geffen” and “Philip Roth: Unmasked.” The fiercely private, reclusive and litigious author passed away three years ago, and resisted selling the rights to his work after the failure of 1949’s “My Foolish Heart,” which was not very faithfully adapted from Salinger’s short story “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut.”
Salerno, who with David Shields also co-wrote a biography entitled “The Private War Of J.D. Salinger,” slated to be auctioned off this week to publishers, told Deadline of the film and what it might reveal about the years of unpublished work Salinger reportedly left behind that “What I am comfortable saying at this point is, there are some significant surprises in the film, and it is substantial and comprehensive. We were at this eight years.”