No, it’s not going to be like the two seasons “This American Life” spent as a TV series on Showtime, revisiting stories from the radio show and exploring new ones. Variety is reporting that HBO is working with Rob Thomas, Ira Glass and Owen Wilson to develop a segment from a 2010 radio episode into a scripted drama called (at least for now) “Thrillsville.”
The story, “Midlife Cowboy,” is from the “Saves the Day” episode that originally aired in March of 2010, and told the tale of James Spring. On the verge of turning 40, the San Diego man felt his life was “unremarkable in almost every way,” and decided what he wanted to do to celebrate his birthday was to do something major to help someone.
After reading about a meth-addicted couple on the run in Mexico for murder with their two daughters, one of whom they’d kidnapped from her grandparents, Spring decided to go down to Baja and rescue the girls.
Thomas (the creator of “Veronica Mars”) is writing the script — no word yet on whether Wilson is looking to star in the series, though it seems a good fit.
“This American Life” has several projects based on past stories in development, including what’s to be Errol Morris’ second scripted film, “Freezing People Is Easy,” based on TAL’s 2008 episode “Mistakes Were Made” and the book “We Froze The First Man.” Mike Birbiglia’s directorial debut “Sleepwalk With Me,” which was acquired by IFC Films after its premiere at Sundance this year, was the first film the radio show was directly involved in producing.
TAL staff member Alissa Shipp came over from Warner Bros., who had a first-look deal with the show from 2002-04, to handle film rights, development, and production. Paul Feig’s “Unaccompanied Minors,” based on a story from Susan Burton in the 2001 episode “Babysitting,” was a product of that deal.