It’s no secret that TV has gotten really, really good in the past ten or fifteen years. Movie stars like Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Steve Buscemi, Clive Owen, Tom Hardy, Kevin Bacon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, and tons more have flocked to the small screen to participate in long-form stories that are far more in-depth than what can be accomplished in a two hour film, and now the latest movie star has joined the trend. Deadline reports that Scarlett Johansson will executive produce and star in “The Custom of the Country,” her first major TV role.
Envisioned as an eight-episode miniseries for cable TV (possibly one of the premium channels), the show (which is based on Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel) is being written by Christopher Hampton (Atonement), which is kind of cool considering he once wrote a feature film screenplay of this same story back in the early 90s that was never made. Now he’ll get his chance, and with one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. But what will the show be about?
Custom Of The Country is described as a scathing story of ambition featuring one of the most ruthless heroines in literature, Undine Spragg, who will be played by Johansson in her first major TV role. Undine is as unscrupulous as she is magnetically beautiful. Her rise to the top of New York’s high society from her nouveau riche roots provides a provocative and thoroughly modern commentary on the upwardly mobile and the aspirations that eventually cause their ruin.
I’m still unclear as to whether this means this will be a modern updating of the original novel’s story, or if this will be a period piece. Either way, Johansson seems like an excellent fit, and it’s cool to see her following the pack of great actors to the world of TV. Since this series is only scheduled to run eight episodes, maybe she’ll form relationships with a network (HBO, Showtime, etc) that could lead to other future TV projects that could see her devoting more time to the small screen. Not that she needs it – her contemplative action thriller Lucy earned a staggering $400 million worldwide earlier this year, so at this point, ScarJo can pretty much do what she wants.
Will you be watching “The Custom of the Country” when it eventually airs?
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