The TV adaption of Elena Ferrante’s novel “My Brilliant Friend” — book one of her Neapolitan series — has found a home. HBO, in partnership with Italy’s national public broadcasting company, Rai, announced that the eight-episode series will begin production in Italy this summer.
According to a press release from HBO, Saverio Costanzo (“Hungry Hearts”) will helm all episodes of “My Brilliant Friend.” Ferrante, who writes under a pseudonym, will pen the adaptation alongside Costanzo, Laura Paolucci, and Francesco Piccolo. Wildside’s Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani are producing, as is Fandango’s Domenico Procacci. Jennifer Schuur serves as executive producer for Wildside and Fandango.
Ferrante’s Neapolitan series was published in the U.S. by Europa Editions. Published in the U.S. by Europa Editions, Ferrante’s Neapolitan series follow the complicated, longtime friendship between Elena and Lila, from Elena’s point of view. The synopsis of “My Brilliant Friend” reads: “When the most important friend in her life seems to have disappeared without a trace, Elena Greco, a now-elderly woman immersed in a house full of books, turns on her computer and starts writing the story of their friendship. She met Raffaella Cerullo, whom she has always called Lila, in the first year of primary school in 1950. Set in a dangerous and fascinating Naples, their story thus begins and goes on to cover over 60 years of their lives, trying to describe the mystery of Lila, Elena’s brilliant friend and — in a way — her best friend, her worst enemy.”
No word yet on who will star as Elena and Lila.
“We are thrilled to partner with Wildside, Rai, and Fandango to bring the powerful, epic storytelling of Elena Ferrante and her Neapolitan Novels to life,” president of HBO Programming Casey Bloys said in a statement. “Through her characters, Elena and Lila, we will witness a lifelong friendship set against the seductive social web of Naples, Italy. An exploration of the complicated intensity of female friendship, these ambitious stories will no doubt resonate with the HBO audience.”
Adds Lorenzo Mieli, CEO, Wildside, “Producing a series based on the incredible work of Elena Ferrante is an exciting challenge. Through the eyes and lives of two extraordinary friends, her quadrilogy describes 50 years of Italian history, touching on universal themes and feelings. We and Fandango are particularly proud of having brought together two partners like HBO and Rai for a series with a strong Italian identity, but aimed at a global audience.”
The adaptation of “My Brilliant Friend” is just the latest of HBO’s women-centric programming. “Big Little Lies,” a limited-series adaption of Liane Moriarty’s 2014 bestseller, has been garnering critical acclaim, especially for Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. The final episode of the murder mystery airs April 2. The TV movie “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” will broadcast April 22. Based on Rebecca Skloot’s nonfiction book of the same name and starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne (“Spy”), it tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American tobacco farmer whose cells were used — without her knowledge — to create the first immortal human cell line.
“Animals,” another Europa Editions publication, will also be adapted for the screen. Australian director Sophie Hyde will helm a film adaptation of Emma Jane Unsworth’s cult favorite, which centers on a co-dependent, toxic relationship between two adult women. Unsworth wrote the script, and Sarah Brocklehurst (“Black Pond”) is producing. Holliday Grainger (“The Riot Club,” “Cinderella”) will star.
HBO Announces TV Adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.