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Darren Aronofsky, Bryan Cranston Turn to Books For New TV Projects -- But Are They The Right Books?

Photo of Liz Shannon Miller By Liz Shannon Miller | Indiewire June 5, 2014 at 1:40PM

This week, two new projects surfaced from the bookstore shelves, and while one sounds like a perfect match, the other is more of a head-scratcher.
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Bryan Cranston in 'Breaking Bad'
AMC Bryan Cranston in 'Breaking Bad'

Book reading and TV watching aren't always mutually exclusive, if only because similar to the film world, literature of all sorts is often mined for new ideas. This week, two new projects surfaced from the bookstore shelves, and while one sounds like a perfect match, the other is more of a head-scratcher.  

First, it was announced that Darren Aronofsky will be working with HBO to develop "MaddAddam," a post-apocalyptic drama based on a trio of novels by Margaret Atwood. "MaddAddam" tracks a not-too-distant future where technology has run amuck, and a slightly-more-distant future devastated by the aftereffects of a "waterless flood." 

The pairing of Aronofsky and "MaddAddam" is almost too ideal, given the director's recent success with "Noah" (which, at its core, is also a post-apocalyptic drama about a flood). Plus, HBO's got an established track record of finding inspiration in book form, from landmark series "Sex and the City" (based on the book of essays by Candace Bushnell) to this month's "The Leftovers" (based on the novel by Tom Perotta). 

And while HBO hasn't pushed too hard into hard sci-fi, "MaddAddam" could serve to fill in the gap in genre programming that will be left behind once "True Blood" ends its run this summer. 

More nebulous is Conn and Hal Iggulden’s "The Dangerous Book for Boys," which "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston's production company Moon Shot Entertainment is developing for television

READ MORE: Why Bryan Cranston Shouldn't Tease Fans about a 'Breaking Bad' Comeback

While "Dangerous Book" is less a narrative and more of a collection of stories and "advice," it sounds like Moon Shot will try to turn the book into a family-driven comedy. But the success rate with taking non-fiction like this and making it work as a scripted series is pretty low. (I may be the only one alive who remembers "The Bad Girl's Guide," and that may be for the best.) The fact that there's already been one attempt to develop "Dangerous Book" for the screen (in that case, for a film adaptation) is another warning sign. 

Long and the short of it: Oftentimes, a book will be selected for adaptation based on brand recognition or a catchy title. But in the long run, the most valuable thing a book can bring to the table is an actual story.   

This article is related to: HBO, Darren Aronofsky, Bryan Cranston