YA drama Looking for Alaska has taken 14 years to make it to screen but will be an “incredibly faithful” adaptation, according to exec producer Josh Schwartz.
The eight-part drama, which will launch on Hulu in October, is based on John Green’s eponymous novel and stars Kristine Froseth, Charlie Plummer, Denny Love, Jay Lee, Landry Bender, Sofia Vassilieva, Uriah Shelton, and Jordan Connor.
The story is told through the eyes of teenager Miles “Pudge” Halter (Plummer), as he enrolls in boarding school to try to gain a deeper perspective on life. He falls in love with Alaska Young (Froseth), and finds a group of loyal friends. But after an unexpected tragedy, Miles and his friends attempt to make sense of what they’ve been through.
The rights to the books were originally acquired by Paramount Pictures in 2005 as a feature and went through a number of scripts and iterations before landing at Hulu last year.
Schwartz said, “We’ve all been waiting a while for this. I was sent the book 14 years ago when it was an unpublished manuscript by a then, unknown, author named John Green and immediately fell in love with it. I had to do it. Even though it was based on John’s experience, it resonated with me. It’s been a journey, I started writing it as a feature at Paramount, there were many different drafts for many different executives. I felt it was never going to get made. They almost made it without me, but I couldn’t move on so when the opportunity came to revisit it as a limited series, I approached John, who was frustrated by the feature experience, but the limited series can offer audiences a more immersive experience, where you spend eight hours with these characters rather than two hours.”
The Gossip Girl co-creator added that Green has been an “unbelievable champion” of the project. “We’re incredibly faithful to the material but we’ve also taken great efforts to go further and deeper,” he added. “For fans of the book, they will feel we’ve really honored the material. The book is really about the limited male gaze and we wanted to make sure that Alaska exists in her own right. The audience will have understanding of her character and she won’t exist only as a mystery, hopefully that will go some way to remedy that.”
Froseth added, “We made sure she felt human, a regular teenager and added in a lot of private moments that help show that.”
Created for television by Schwartz, the series comes from Paramount Television and Fake Empire. Stephanie Savage and Schwartz will serve as executive producers, along with Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters, John Green, and Marty Bowen and Isaac Klausner of Temple Hill. Fake Empire exec Lis Rowinski will co-executive produce. Sarah Adina Smith (Hanna) directs the first episode.The novel on which the series is based arrived in 2005 and became a New York Times bestseller. All eight episodes of Looking for Alaska will premiere Friday, Oct. 18 on Hulu.