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'Just Kids': Patti Smith's acclaimed memoir heads to Showtime

Smith's memoir about her time in New York in the 1960s and 1970s won the National Book Award and will now reportedly be adapted by the cable network as a limited series.

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    Patti Smith performs during the Glastonbury Festival in Britain in 2015.
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Patti Smith’s bestselling memoir, “Just Kids,” will reportedly be the basis for a series at Showtime. 

Smith’s 2010 memoir looks back at her time living in New York in the 1960s and 1970s and her acquaintance with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe as well as various other figures of the day. 

The book received many positive reviews from critics and won the National Book Award for nonfiction. 

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The TV adaptation of the work will be a limited series and Smith herself will reportedly work as a writer on the program with John Logan of Showtime’s program “Penny Dreadful.” 

The number of episodes has reportedly not been specified, but if "Kids" is adapted in a miniseries format rather than an open-ended program (some "limited series" like CBS's "Under the Dome" have run for longer than one might expect) and becomes a hit, it would echo the recent success of original movies and miniseries on cable channels. Some of these not only did well during awards season but also scored viewers.

HBO’s 2013 original movie, “Behind the Candelabra,” which looked at the life of singer Liberace, received the best ratings for an HBO original movie since 2004. It also won the Best Miniseries or Movie Emmy. And HBO’s recent miniseries “The Jinx,” which aired this spring, showed how an audience can grow through word-of-mouth: the final episode of “The Jinx” got the biggest audience the show had snared so far. It's nominated for Best Documentary or Nonfiction Series at the Emmys this year.

In addition, critically acclaimed miniseries have become more and more the area of expertise for cable channels.

In the 1990s, most of the winners of the Best Miniseries Emmy went to networks like NBC, PBS, and ABC, with NBC winning for such programs as “A Woman Named Jackie” and “Gulliver’s Travels” and PBS winning for installments of “Prime Suspect.” Of course, those were years before cable channels like HBO or Showtime were the cultural forces they are today.

And by the 2000s, HBO dominated the Emmy miniseries category, winning many times for programs such as “Band of Brothers” and “Angels in America.” It’s continued to be a force there (though the name was briefly switched to Best Miniseries or Movie) in the 2010s, with HBO winning for such programming as “Game Change” and “The Pacific.” If Showtime decides to broadcast "Kids" for a specific number of episodes in a miniseries format, the network is most likely looking for the same success.

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