Noah Baumbach Explains Why HBO Dropped "The Corrections"

Studio 360

In this so-called golden age of television, we tend to think great books make great TV shows--- likeGame of Thrones, The Leftovers, and Friday Night Lights. So when the filmmakerNoah Baumbach (who has showna literary bent in films likeThe Squid and the WhaleandGreenberg) was tapped for the HBO adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections, it seemed to makea lot of sense. The show lined up a great-sounding cast, including Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ewan McGregor, Dianne Wiest, Chris Cooper, Greta Gerwig, and Rhys Ifans. Franzen and Baumbach worked onthescreenplay together, and Baumbach shot part of a pilot. But the show never made it to air. HBO reportedly passedon the project in 2012, and both the network andthedirectorweretight-lipped about why.

In an interview for this week's episodeof Studio 360, Noah Baumbach spoke with Kurt Andersen aboutThe Corrections and explained where the project went wrong--- for one thing, Baumbach thinks the book was too complex to turn into TV. And that his production was too expensive for HBO.

Kurt Andersen: You were going to turn Jonathan Franzen's novelThe Correctionsinto an HBO series. It didn't happen. What did that teach you about what you do well and what you do less well?

Noah Baumbach: I left it with a real appreciation for what is distinctly television and what is distinctly movies. Sometimes that gets conflated because we're all talking about how we're in a golden age of TV and TV is where more interesting stuff is going on. But I think what gets lost in that sometimes is that it's really a different medium. For me, the challenge of looking at something over a long period of time, that was ongoing and had no end, where you're just re-generating story for every episode...

The idea of that was, what, depressing? Terrifying?

I don't know that I appreciated how different it was from movies.

It's not like making a little movie every week?

It wasn't for me. I think I shot it too much like a movie. The real reason I think we didn't go forward with it was it was too complex, and it was really too expensive for the kind of show it was going to be.

And that's saying a lot for an HBO show.

Well, we didn't have dragons. It was the kind of show that most people would do for two cents and we were spending what Game of Thrones spends.

Listen toKurt's full interview with Noah Baumbach on this week'sshow.

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