EXCLUSIVE: Caryn Mandabach Productions, producer/owner of hit BBC and Netflix gangster epic Peaky Blinders, has secured TV rights to prize-winning author Jonathan Lee’s international bestseller High Dive. The book is a re-imagining of the 1980s IRA bombing attack on Brighton’s Grand Hotel, an attempt to assassinate then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and key members of her government. Oscar winner Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) is supervising the four-part series which will be written by Lee. Roth also exec produces with Lee, and Caryn Mandabach and Jamie Glazebrook for Caryn Mandabach Productions.
Originally published by Alfred A Knopf in the U.S. and William Heinemann in the UK, 2015’s High Dive is available in 12 languages. It’s described as a timely exploration of the allure of extremism that presents a tense, nuanced and gripping portrait of an assassination attempt that changed the face of global politics forever. Blending fact and fiction, comedy and tragedy, the source material is a reimagining of those fateful fall 1984 days from the perspectives of three characters — a young IRA bomb maker, the deputy hotel manager and his teenage daughter — whose lives will be altered by the Prime Minister’s visit.
The novel was selected as one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker. It was also a New York Times Critics’ Top Books of the Year, among other accolades. The Times called it a “devastating” and “inspired” work that brought to mind the work of Alfred Hitchcock.
Mandabach says it’s “timeless in its depiction of how politics and politicians tend to crush the human spirit. Jonathan Lee’s brilliant book is more relevant now than ever. Of course, nothing more need be said about Eric. He is simply a master.”
Roth, who won an Academy Award for adapting Forrest Gump, and was nominated for The Insider, Munich and The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, was an executive producer on the U.S. version of House Of Cards. He also serves as EP on Berlin Station and the Emmy nominated The Alienist.
Roth says High Dive is “a literary tour de force, that rare combination of knuckle-busting real-life tension, and the deep-felt humanity, the heartbreak, of the lives that are affected.”
Lee adds, “It’s a huge thrill to work with Caryn and Eric on adapting my novel for the screen. I’m looking forward to reimagining the material for television.”
The deal was negotiated by Kate Prentice at 42 for Lee and by Jackoway, Tyerman, Wertheimer, Austen, Mandelbaum, Morris & Klein, and Sonya Rosenfeld at CAA for Roth.