Robert Redford is looking to make the jump from feature films to the small screen with a TV series adaptation of Pete Hamill’s novel, Forever. The actor-turned-filmmaker will team his Sundance Productions banner with Radical Media and Fremantle Enterprises for the adaptation, which journeys far into the past, specifically New York in 1741.
But this isn’t just another traditional period drama, as the story follows a man who will remain immortal if he never leaves the island of Manhattan. This allows him to see New York grow from just a tiny community with a mix of Irish and English citizens to the thriving Big Apple metropolis it is today.
For those interested in details, here’s a synopsis courtesy of Publishers Weekly (via Amazon):
The year is 1741 and this is the story of Cormac O’Connor-”Irish, and a Jew”-who grows up in Ireland under English Protestant rule and is secretly schooled in Gaelic religion, myth and language. Seeking to avenge the murder of his father by the Earl of Warren, he follows the trail of the earl to New York City. On board ship, Cormac befriends African slave Kongo, and once in New York, the two join a rebellion against the British. After the rising is quelled, mobs take to the streets and Kongo is seized. Cormac saves Kongo from death, but is shot in the process. His recovery takes a miraculous turn when Kongo’s dead priestess, Tomora, appears and grants Cormac eternal life and youth-so long as he never leaves the island of Manhattan, thus the “Forever” of the title. What follows is a portrait of the “city of memory of which Cormac was the only citizen.” Cormac fights in the American Revolution, sups with Boss Tweed (in a very sympathetic portrait) and lives into the New York of 2001. In that year he warily falls in love with Delfina, a streetwise Dominican (“That was the curse attached to the gift: You buried everyone you loved”), and comes into contact with a descendant of the Earl of Warren, the newspaper publisher Willie Warren. His love, his drive for revenge and his very desire to exist are fatefully challenged on the eve and the day of September 11.
Variety says there’s no network attached yet, so the series will be produced before it finds a home on TV. However, at this time, it’s not clear who will be at the helm of the series, or, for that matter, who is scripting it – though there’s always the chance that Redford himself could step up and direct at least the pilot episode of this intriguing story. After all, this won’t be his first foray into television, as Redford executive produced the unique interview series Iconoclasts on the Sundance Channel, featuring two icons in their respective fields (like Tony Hawk and Jon Favreau) interviewing each other.
As for taking this book to series, my curiosity lies within the timeline itself. If the book spans from 1741 all the way to September 11th, 2001, then how quickly will seasons move through history? If the series doesn’t take off beyond one season, fans of the book will surely be disappointed if it doesn’t get beyond the 1700s. Things would certainly get interesting around the mid 1800s if Cormac encounters any of the characters from Martin Scorsese’s portrayal of history in Gangs of New York, a time integral in the development of the iconic city.
The story is ripe with potential for some great writing and wonderful moments, especially with a character who has lived through some of history’s most iconic events. Much in the same way Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom has been re-living the big news events of the past couple years, this series can do it even further back in history, all with a character who doesn’t die, and can actually bring extensive knowledge of history (perhaps even hauntingly so) to the present day.
We’ll keep you updated on the status of Forever as more information becomes available.