Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame) is returning to the television medium, which is where he began his professional career by writing for series like Get a Life, The Edge and The Dana Carvey Show back in the 1990s. This decision was, at least partly, motivated by his planned sophomore directorial effort Frank or Francis hitting a $nag during pre-production.
Kaufman was developing a comedy series for Catherine Keener to headline last year, but that HBO project is either dead or stuck in development at this point. Fortunately, the eccentric storyteller is now working on another TV venture, in the shape of a half-hour FX comedy series titled How and Why.
Vulture is reporting that Kaufman will executive produce, write and direct the How and Why pilot, which revolves around “a man who can describe the ins and outs of a nuclear reactor but is clueless about life.” It sounds as though the FX show’s lead will be a chip off the same block as the protagonists featured in previous Kaufman scripts, with his mix of intellectual prowess and social ineptitude (Nathan Bronfman (Tim Robbins) from Human Nature comes to mind in particular).
FX has established itself as a premiere cable network for original scripted content, by churning out such acclaimed live-action comedy series as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Louie (Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management, on the other hand, isn’t so much a critical darling). Both Kaufman’s How and Why and the Coen Brothers-produced Fargo TV show – which FX officially gave the greenlight this week – should feel right at home alongside similar creative shows (with a twisted sense of humor).
Kaufman isn’t the only talented filmmaker preparing new (and promising) material for FX either, as Guillermo del Toro is developing a show based on the vampire sci-fi/horror novel trilogy The Strain (which he co-created). Meanwhile, Ang Lee plans to follow his Best Director Oscar win on Life of Pi by directing the pilot for Tyrant, a new FX drama from Homeland producers Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff.
The small screen really is where all the cool kids want to hang out right now, and with good reason (see: Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter discussing the benefits of writing for television instead of film, in the current environment).
We will update with more information on How and Why as it becomes available.