It may seem like there’s not much to laugh about when it comes to bodybuilding, but if Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance has his druthers, HBO will soon provide the means to disprove that dated line of thinking. And it won’t even require an SNL revival of Hans and Franz. Instead, Cianfrance’s forthcoming HBO series will be based on the well known Sam Fussell memoir Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder.


Twenty years ago, Fussell published his inspiring life journey from scrawny adolescent to hulking bodybuilding god. Having run away from home during his youth to become a “muscle head,” Fussell gave up everything – including his health – to get buff, an accomplished goal that would eventually allow Fussell to spend four eventful years as a professional bodybuilder after graduating from Oxford.

Candid, telling, and witty, Muscle is still remembered for its unflinching look at what one goes through to become a success in contemporary bodybuilding. Fussell’s tale remains thoroughly engaging even to those not enamored with bodybuilding, which should help the prospects of it becoming an HBO series. Consequently, the single-camera half-hour comedy will – according to Cianfrance  – “give new meaning to the word ‘character development.’

To say that premium cable television programs about the world of bodybuilding are an anomaly would be an understatement of epic proportions. Still, HBO executives are said to be excited about the project. And, auspiciously for the integrity of the series, Fussell himself will write and executive produce the project with Derek Cianfrance. Fellow Blue Valentine producer Jamie Patricof has also been tapped for series development.

For the time being, however, both  Patricof and Cianfrance are still busy celebrating the greater-than-anticipated  opening weekend success of their new film. Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine opened with the highest gross among specialty releases last week.

Daily Variety reports that Muscle will be the first project from Hunting Lane Films’ new development fund for features budgeted between $6 million and $20 million along with scripted TV projects. Hunting Lane’s other credits include features Half Nelson and Sugar, reality TV series The Rachel Zoe Project and Ice Cube’s Straight Outta L.A.

Source: Daily Variety