HBO might be turning into something of a safe haven for the kind of smart, adult programming that’s increasingly rare in theaters, but not everything gets to make the cut. With shows like “True Blood” and “Game Of Thrones” becoming long-running hits, and newcomers like “Girls” and “The Newsroom” getting second season pickups, there’s only so much room on the schedule, and it means that even high-profile shows aren’t necessarily getting the go-ahead. Perhaps the highest-profile casualty of late has been Noah Baumbach‘s “The Corrections,” an adaptation of the greatly acclaimed novel by Jonathan Franzen, which would have featured a cast including Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Dianne Wiest, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans and, potentially, LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy.
But HBO ultimately passed on the show, and it seems like any chance of it reemerging at another network, or even at a film festival or something similar, is slim. We spoke to Noah Baumbach about the 17th anniversary screening of his debut “Kicking And Screaming” at BAMCinematek a few weeks ago (more from that interview here), and the director was pretty pessimistic about it seeing the light of day. “I think ‘The Corrections’ is not going to happen,” he told us. “It was never finished. We shot a pilot, but we didn’t shoot a whole pilot, even.”
As for the prospect of it surfacing at a film festival down the line, Baumbach was pretty definitive: “That won’t happen here. [But] I really liked doing it, it was fun to do.” It’s sad news indeed for a project we were looking forward to immensely, but it’s understandable that HBO, and Baumbach, wouldn’t want an incomplete piece of work out there.
Baumbach’s got plenty of projects on the go, however, with the next up being a producing role alongside his “Life Aquatic” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” co-writer Wes Anderson, on a new film for Peter Bogdanovich, “Squirrel To The Nuts,” starring Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzmann, Olivia Wilde and Brie Larson. Baumbach told us, simply, “Wes and I are doing whatever we can to help Peter make his movie.” Hopefully financing will firm up for that sooner rather than later, and if it does, lensing will get underway this fall.
As for Baumbach’s next film, it seems to be in early stages, with the director saying, “I have some stuff, but I’m not ready to talk about it. Things that I’m excited about. Films [not TV].” One thing it probably won’t be is “While We’re Young,” a project involving an uptight 40-something couple given a new lease on life by their new 20-something Brooklynite friends. The film had an impressive selection of talent circling at various points, including Ben Stiller, James Franco, Greta Gerwig, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts and Jesse Eisenberg, but never quite seemed to make it over the start line.
But according to Baumbach, it may never have been that firm a prospect to begin with. “The thing with the internet,” the director said, “you can’t really do anything… You used to have an idea for something, and for it not to be called your next movie.” That said, the film does still seem to be in the cards: “I am going to make ‘While We’re Young,’ but it’s not going to be my next movie.” Another project that may be revived down the line is “Prep,” the helmer’s adaptation of Curtis Sittenfield‘s novel, set at a prestigious East Coast prep school, which has been in the works since 2006. A script’s been done for some time, but Baumbach says “I’d like to do ‘Prep’ too, at some point. I love that book, and I love the script I wrote for it.”
So, there’s plenty to keep the writer-director busy then, even if there’s no firm word on what might be next. Until then, “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” which Baumbach co-wrote, is still in theaters, and if you haven’t seen “Kicking And Screaming,” do yourself a favor and track it down.
– interview by RP