Posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2009 by Brendon Connelly
After several years of the best radio show ever produced, a none-too-shabby TV variant and a good handful of live engagements, Ira Glass and This American Life are finally getting into the movie business. Inevitable, perhaps.
Somewhat surprisingly, though, the screenwriters lined up for their first picture are the guys behind the script for Joe Johnston’s upcoming Captain America as well as the first two Narnia movies; yet perhaps less surprisingly for This Life collaborators, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely also wrote The Life and Death of Peter Sellers and collaborated with Cameron Crowe on a proposed, yet stalled, remake of the Ernst Lubitsch masterpiece Trouble in Paradise. (Who on earth thought Crowe would need assistance in adapting Lubitsch???)
It’s propped up between these different genre types that I suspect the American Life project will stand, though leaning somewhat on the latter.
Based up Arthur Phillips’ story Wenceslas Square, the film will be a love story about spies in Czechoslovakia at the end of the cold war. Scope for some minor-key action shenanigans to keep the financiers in hope of a juicy trailer campaign, but also something characterful, rich in a sense of time and place.
This American Life broadcast Phillips’ reading of his story, allbeit in an abridge form, on their 337th episode, Man vs. History. I recommend you take a listen to that in lieu of me bungling some kind of synopsis. I think you’ll agree that the film will have to expand a little to fill it’s running time.
Several previous This American Life episodes have given rise to movie projects, though only Paul Feig’s Unacompannied Minors/Grounded seems to have made it to release. Tina Fey’s adaptation of the Curly Oxide story – rumoured to have Sacha Baron Cohen attached as the world’s most idiosyncratic rapper – was the one I really wanted to see, though we can probably forget about that one now, at least with that talent attached.
Wenceslas Square is to be the first film officially produced under the This American Life banner – the existence of which banner vaguely promises more movies to come. May I request You and the Little Mermaid Can Both Go F*** Yourselves: The Musical?
Come on! I’m giving you gold here, Jonathan Goldstein.
Oh – and yes, I think I’m the only Brit I know to actually listen to the show, discounting Jon Ronson because he sometimes contributes. I wish the BBC would license it for Radio 2 on Saturday lunchtimes.