Sunday, June 12, 2011

Salman Rushdie says TV drama series have taken the place of novels

Booker-prizewinning novelist to write sci-fi drama for television, citing The Wire, The Sopranos and Mad Men as an inspiration

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie, who is to begin writing for TV. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

Salman Rushdie is to make a sci-fi television series in the belief that quality TV drama has taken over from film and the novel as the best way of widely communicating ideas and stories.
"It's like the best of both worlds," said the novelist in an interview with the Observer. "You can work in movie style productions, but have proper control."

The new work, to be called The Next People is being made for Showtime, a US cable TV network. The plot will be based in factual science, Rushdie said, but will contain elements of the supernatural or extra-terrestrial. Although filming is yet to begin, a pilot has been commissioned and written. It will have what Rushdie described as "an almost feature-film budget".
Showtime has announced that the hour-long drama will deal with the fast pace of change in modern life, covering the areas of politics, religion, science, technology and sexuality. "It's a sort of paranoid science-fiction series, people disappearing and being replaced by other people," said Rushdie, 63, best known for Midnight's Children and The Satanic Verses. "It's not exactly sci-fi, in that there is not an awful lot of science behind it, but there are certainly elements which are not naturalistic," he said in the interview, which will appear in full in the Observer later this month.

The idea that Rushdie might create a television show came from his US agents who suggested that he would have more creative influence than with a feature-film script.
"They said to me that what I should really think about is a TV series, because what has happened in America is that the quality – or the writing quality – of movies has gone down the plughole.
"If you want to make a $300m special effects movie from a comic book, then fine. But if you want to make a more serious movie… I mean you have no idea how hard it was to raise the money for Midnight's Children."

Deepa Mehta, an Oscar-nominated director, is currently making a film version of Rushdie's 1981 Booker Prize winning novel, under the title Winds of Change, that will be co-scripted by the author. "I'm in this position where, for the first time in my writing life, I don't have a novel on the go, but I have a movie and a memoir and a TV series," said Rushdie, who is working on an account of the most famous and troubled era of his life – the period when his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses put him at the centre of a dangerous international controversy.
In 1989, Tehran radio broadcast a fatwa, or religious edict, from the Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran, which called the book blasphemous and put a price on the author's head. Rushdie lived through the next decade in hiding.
The former advertising copywriter's first novel Grimus, was partly science fiction and his novels since have often been described as examples of the vivid literary school of "magical realism".
Full story at The Guardian.

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