CBS is currently developing a series based on James Ellroy’s acclaimed 1990 crime novel L.A. Confidential. The book was previously adapted into a film in 1997, starring Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito in a complex, noirish story of good cops, bad cops, and mysterious women set in Los Angeles of the 1950s. The movie would go on to be nominated for nine Oscars, winning for Best Supporting Actress (Basinger) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland).
Ellroy’s 1990 novel was the third book in his L.A. Quartet cycle, following The Black Dahlia and The Big Nowhere and preceding White Jazz. With its punchy prose, complex storytelling, and painstakingly researched detail, the book garnered critical acclaim and only increased Ellroy’s reputation as one of American fiction’s great masters of the crime novel.
Variety reports that CBS wants to bring L.A. Confidential to the small screen in series form, and is working with Gotham and The Mentalist producer Jordan Harper, who will write and executive produce. New Regency, Lionsgate and CBS Television will produce, with Arnon Milchan of New Regency also serving as executive producer. The show would be similar story-wise to the novel and film, in that it would center around cops investigating a series of murders, but the reporter character played by Danny DeVito in the movie would be gender-swapped to a female.
A previous attempt at bringing L.A. Confidential to the small screen with Kiefer Sutherland and Eric Roberts resulted in a pilot but was never picked up to series, though the pilot did air and was later released as a special feature on a DVD edition. James Ellroy tried himself a few years back to get a series off the ground but met with no success.
This latest try at creating a TV version of L.A. Confidential sounds like it has more chance to come to fruition, with accomplished writer/producer Jordan Harper taking the lead. With its period setting, the show could be expensive to produce, but CBS certainly has the resources necessary to make the series look good. Ellroy’s novel is packed with more than enough well-realized characters and highly charged situations to fuel at least one season of episodes.
Casting for L.A. Confidential should be an interesting process to follow, as CBS and Jordan Harper find actors to play Ellroy’s gaggle of colorful 1950s characters, all of whom fall in different places on the moral spectrum. The cast of the original movie was almost perfect, and any actors who take on these roles in the TV version will definitely have a tough act to follow.
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