Franzen is writing the adaptation of the book for the screen, he said. He said he is working on the project with screenwriter and director Noah Baumbach, who wrote and directed “Greenberg” and "The Squid and the Whale,” for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Writing/Original Screenplay. Franzen said Scott Rudin, the executive producer of “Moneyball” among other projects, would also be involved, although he did not explain the exact roles Baumbach and Rudin would fill on the project.
The series will be divided into four seasons to be aired over the course of four years.
Rumor has it Anthony Hopkins has expressed interest in playing Alfred, the father, in the adaptation. Donald Sutherland has also been mentioned as a candidate for the part although Franzen himself once said that he favored Gene Hackman. There have been no announcements about the casting yet.
Franzen’s 2001 novel tells the story of three months in the life of the Lambert family, who live in the St. Louis-like city of St. Jude. Alfred has just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and his wife is determined to bring her children together for Christmas. The three Lambert children are: Gary, who is going through problems with his own family; Chip, who’s getting roped into an investment scam in Lithuania; and Denise, a chef who’s exploring her sexual identity.
Franzen released his latest book, “Freedom,” which tells the story of the troubled Berglund family, in 2010.
Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.