Books coming to TV with Oprah and other stars
The latest book-to-TV adaptations include offerings starring Oprah, Hugh Laurie, John Boyega, and Elisabeth Moss
Call it lit fit to binge-watch. Everything from high school classics to new thrillers are coming to TV, with some of Hollywood’s buzziest stars attached. Here’s where the latest adaptations stand — but don’t worry, you have some time to play catch-up.
The Book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Show: HBO, date TBD
The Lowdown: This nonfiction book details the remarkable afterlife of Henrietta Lacks, whose cervical-cancer cells were used to develop cures for scores of diseases and made many rich — though the Lacks family never received a penny. Skloot’s page-turner will come to life in a TV film starring Oprah Winfrey, who’ll play Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah. “[The story] speaks to numerous themes that resonate today,” says EP Alan Ball. “Race, class privilege, medical ethics, the nature of family and friendships.”
The Book: Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Show: Netflix and BBC One, 2017
The Lowdown: Adams’ beloved 1972 tome about rabbits trying to escape human intrusion and destruction has already been adapted as a TV series, but this time Netflix and BBC One will turn the tale into a four-part CGI-animated miniseries, voiced by British heavyweights like John Boyega, James McAvoy, Ben Kingsley, and Nicholas Hoult. “This novel presentation of Adams’ work pairs great talent with beautiful animation and will delight existing fans,” says Netflix’s VP of Global Television, Larry Tanz.
The Book: Chance by Kem Nunn
The Show: Hulu, late 2016
The Lowdown: Hugh Laurie is back playing doctor, this time as a San Francisco forensic neuropsychiatrist who gets caught up in a web of violence, police corruption, and mental illness. Already picked up for two seasons, the thriller will “pretty much be the book” for its first run, author Kem Nunn says. But in subsequent seasons, the show will be an “ongoing conversation.” He says, “For Hugh and [Room director] Lenny [Abrahamson] to sign on was huge.”
The Book: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Show: Hulu, 2017
The Lowdown: Elisabeth Moss was just cast as the 1985 novel’s narrator, Offred, one of the only remaining fertile women in a dystopian world ravaged by environmental disasters and dropping birthrates. “It’s a story that is at once terrifyingly relevant today on an epic global scale and also deeply personal and intimate,” the Mad Men alum says of Atwood’s Booker Prize-nominated tale. “The themes of the handmaid’s fight for her life and her freedom are universal and both horrific and deeply hopeful.”