James Gray to Helm Norman Mailer Series About Wild Legacy of the Controversial Author

The untitled series from the "Ad Astra" director is produced by Norman Mailer's son, actor John Buffalo Mailer.
Director James Gray poses for photographers at the photo call for the film 'Ad Astra' at the 76th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)
James Gray
Arthur Mola/Invision/AP

“Ad Astra” director James Gray is giving his take on controversial author Norman Mailer for a new series.

Gray, whose own biographical “Armageddon Time” is a hopeful entry for this year’s Cannes, is set to helm a new TV series about Mailer’s life.

John Buffalo Mailer, the son of the writer (who died in 2007), will produce the project, currently titled “Mailer,” through his Mailer Tuchman Media production company.

Mailer was the author of “The Naked and the Dead,” “The Executioner’s Song,” and “The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster,” among other novels that proved to be cultural touchstones or controversy-stoking tomes — often in the same text. His work reflected on the evolution of Americana, from World War II to the advent of the internet. Mailer’s relationships with fellow literary icons Truman Capote and Gore Vidal will be fodder for the series, as will Mailer’s six wives and numerous mistresses, as Deadline reported.

“Mailer” is based on J. Michael Lennon’s biography, “Norman Mailer: A Double Life.”

“It’s hard to come up with another individual whose voice meant more in his time than Norman Mailer’s,” writer-director Gray said in a press statement. “He chronicled humanity in all its outrageous and ugly glory through a lens that was uniquely his own. I look forward to the exciting challenge of examining his wild legacy through this series.”

Mailer’s son John Buffalo Mailer added that the series is going to be a “no-holds-barred, pull-no-punches, intimate chronicle” of his father’s life.

“As we examine this unique cultural moment we are experiencing today in America, looking back on how we got here through one of the most fascinating, prophetic, and controversial lenses of the 20th century will be an extraordinary tool in terms of understanding how far we have come, and how far we still have yet to go,” John Buffalo Mailer said. “I cannot imagine a better visionary voice to bring this journey to life today than James Gray. We are honored that it will be in his hands.”

Rudy Langlais will also executive produce alongside Mailer, Martin Tuchman, and Jennifer Gelfer.

“Mailer” marks Gray’s first full television series. The “Lost City of Z” filmmaker directed one episode of SundanceTV’s “The Red Road” in 2014.

Gray’s latest film, Queens-set “Armageddon Time,” stars Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway, and Jeremy Strong, with the “Succession” Emmy winner rumored to play a version of Gray’s father. “Armageddon Time” reportedly wrapped filming in December 2021.

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