The deal is the latest literary adaptation for the Wolf Hall producer, following the launch of Little Women earlier this year, The White Princess on Starz and BBC and Amazon’s King Lear. It also marks the latest Fitzgerald novel to head to the small screen following the launch of The Last Tycoon, based on Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel The Love of the Last Tycoon on Amazon.
I understand that Callender’s firm struck the deal with Don Laventhall at Harold Ober and Associates, who brokered the deal on behalf of Fitzgerald’s estate. Playground will produce a TV series in association with David A. Stern at Sleeping Giant Films. Stern was previously Head of Scripted Programming at Sofia Vergara’s Raze and recently exec produced The Last Tycoon as well as Howards End.
Tender Is The Night, which was published in 1934, was Fitzgerald’s fourth and final completed novel. It tells the story of promising young psychiatrist Dick Diver and his wife Nicole and is thought to have somewhat mirrored Fitzgerland’s own life with his wife Zelda.
It follows Dick Diver, who meets 16-year old Nicole Warren, who suffers from schizophrenia, before marrying her and moving to the French Riviera, where they start a glamorous life of partying with friends.
However, Diver’s life soon takes a turn after investing in a clinic in Switzerland, being accused of seducing the 15-year daughter of one of his patients and driving his wife to jealousy (and a car accident). He moves to Berlin, when he finds out his father dies, and on his way back from America, he sleeps with Rosemary Hoyt, a beautiful 18-year old American actress who fell in love with him in France. His drinking problem forces him to leave his own business, while one of his friends murders a man and Rosemary notices Nicole having a nervous breakdown in a hotel bathroom. Subsequently moving back to America, Dick continues to unravel, his wife has an affair and remarries and Dick ends up living an anonymous life in small-town New York.
Given its international settings, Tender Is The Night is ideal for an international co-production. I understand that it is in the very early stage of development and no broadcasters are yet attached. Playground Entertainment boss Colin Callender will exec produce the series alongside Stern and Scott Huff.
The book has been remade a number of times; Jason Robards and Jennifer Jones starred in a 1962 film (pictured above), while a mini-series, written by Dennis Potter, starring Mary Steenburgen and Peter Strauss, aired on the BBC, Showtime and CBC in 1985.
Playground is currently producing a TV adaptation of Lucy Kirkwood’s play Chimerica starring Cherry Jones and F Murray Abraham and is developing a cyber warfare drama – The Undeclared War – for Channel 4 with Peter Kosminsky. Earlier this year, it optioned Imogen Hermes Gowar’s best-selling debut novel The Mermaid And Mrs Hancock.