Posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 by Angie Han
Between Mad Men, Pan Am, and The Playboy Club, you’d think television would have gotten its fill of glossy dramas about the 1960s, but it seems those shows may soon have to make room for one more. Precious director Lee Daniels is set to develop Jacqueline Susann’s 1966 novel Valley of the Dolls for NBC. The book follows three women over two decades as they hit highs and lows and eventually self-destruct. More details after the jump.
Deadline reports that NBC has given a script commitment plus penalty to the project, by 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment. Daniels will write and direct and the series, which will be inspired by Mark Robson‘s 1967 film adapted from the novel. Daniels will also executive produce with Chernin and Katherine Pope.
The story revolves primarily around three friends: Anne Welles, a beautiful woman who works at a talent agency; Neely O’Hara, a vaudeville star who lives in Anne’s building; and Jennifer North, an attractive showgirl of limited talent. The title refers to the usage of “dolls” as a slang term for barbiturates, which all three women begin using as sleeping pills to their ultimate ruin.
The original book was a sensation when it was published in 1966, and has sold over 30 million copies to date. It’s been adapted for the screen three times previously — twice for television — but the first and best-known iteration is Robson’s drama, which starred Barbara Perkins as Anne, Patty Duke as Neely, Sharon Tate as Jennifer, and Susan Hayward as aging theater actress Helen Lawson. Though it was savaged by critics, it was a smashing commercial success, and is regarded today as a cult trash classic.
The ’60s-set drama trend has been receiving mixed results so far. AMC’s Mad Men is between seasons at the moment, but continues to enjoy the enthusiastic love of critics and viewers, and ABC’s Pan Am premiered Sunday night to strong numbers. On the flip side, NBC’s The Playboy Club has received fairly awful reviews and ratings, and may face cancellation if its numbers don’t improve. Based on what we know about Valley of the Dolls, it seems to have a few things in common with The Playboy Club, and could work as either a companion to the preexisting series if it picks up, or a replacement if it doesn’t.