Tomorrow Studios (“Physical,” “Snowpiercer”) is adapting Jonathan Franzen’s New York Times bestselling “Freedom: A Novel” into a television series with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions (“The Good Fight”). Golden Globe-winning “The Affair” producer Melanie Marnich is set to write.
“Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Freedom’ is a laugh-out-loud, emotional knock-out of a novel and we couldn’t have conjured a better writer to adapt this material than the brilliant Melanie Marnich,” Scott said in a statement. “We are very excited to bring this project to market with our partners at Tomorrow Studios.”
Released in 2010, “Freedom” was named by the Times as one of the 10 best books of the year; upon its release, it also won the John Gardner Fiction Award and became a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist.
The novel explores contemporary love and marriage through the journeys of Patty and Walter Berglund, pioneers of old St. Paul, who are described as “the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde.” At the turn of the century, they question why their teenage son has moved in with the staunch Republican family next door, and why Walter has chosen to take a job working with Big Coal after having once been an environmental lawyer. The timely book traces the couple’s mistakes and joys as they attempt to cope with an increasingly disorienting world.
“In this ever-changing world, parents are just trying to keep up and ‘Freedom’ explores this incredible journey as only Jonathan Franzen can,” Tomorrow Studios, an ITV partnership, CEO and partner Marty Adelstein and president and partner Becky Clements said. “We are thrilled to help bring this series to life, adapted by the incredibly talented Melanie Marnich in collaboration with the passionate, steadfast producers at Scott Free.”
Franzen — who will executive produce alongside Adelstein, Clements, Marnich and Scott — added, “Of all my novels, ‘Freedom’ seems to me the most directly pertinent to our current social and political moment — globally the fragile earth, nationally the great red/blue divide. I’m excited to be working with Scott Free and Tomorrow Studios on the adaptation, and I’ve felt from the beginning that Melanie is a perfect choice to write and run the show.”
David Zucker, Jordan Sheehan and Clayton Krueger will also EP.
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“In ‘Freedom,’ Jonathan Franzen created a masterpiece — hilarious, heartbreaking, relentlessly relevant — and I feel so fortunate to be diving into its world. It’s a dream project and it comes with a dream team: Scott Free and Tomorrow Studios. They are brilliant collaborators and I’m thrilled to be creating this show with them,” Marnich, who is also an award-winning playwright, said.
Franzen’s 2001 novel “The Corrections” was set to be adapted by HBO, with “Frances Ha” filmmaker Noah Baumbach set to direct the series. It was later dropped after filming half of a pilot, with Baumbach saying the venture was “too complex” and “too expensive” for the network. As of 2018, another Showtime adaptation of the novelist’s book “Purity,” with Daniel Craig attached, was on hold.
Marnich’s credits also include Netflix’s “The OA,” “The Son” with Pierce Brosnan, the Laura Linney-starring “The Big C” and HBO’s “Big Love.”
Franzen is repped by The Gotham Group on behalf of Susan Golomb of Writers House and attorney Alex Kohner. Marnich is represented by WME and Rise Management.