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Franzen's 'Purity' coming to Showtime with Daniel Craig in starring role



When I read Jonathan Franzen's 2015 novel Purity, I thought the book -- a briskly-paced tale of tangled relationships and hidden identities with a dash of high-tech spying -- was of all his novels the one most likely to translate to the screen.

It turns out Showtime thought so, too. The cable channel announced Wednesday that the book will become a 20-episode limited series, starring former James Bond Daniel Craig as Andreas Wolf, a charismatic Julian Assange-like character whose secrets are among the story's most terrible. Killer casting -- Wolf is right in Craig's wheelhouse, a man so charming that his Sunlight Project, a sort of Wikileaks with hifalutin philosophical trappings, becomes something of a cult. But he is, beneath the magnetism, a very dangerous man. Craig's next stage role, a New York production this fall of Othello in which he'll play Iago, will be a perfect warmup for Wolf.

Franzen will be one of the series' writers and executive producers. Todd Field wil direct, write and produce. Field has a record of turning literary fiction into effective films: He directed and co-wrote In the Bedroom, based on an Andre Dubus short story, and Little Children, from a Tom Perrotta novel. Also on board as a writer is playwright and screenwriter David Hare.

No word yet on casting for the book's other two main characters, Purity "Pip" Tyler, an engaging but aimless young woman, and Tom Aberant, an investigative journalist. Production is set to begin in 2017, and the limited series will run over two years.

Franzen's National Book Award-winning novel The Corrections was optioned by HBO but never made it to the screen. I'm looking forward to this version of Purity -- and to Craig as the smoldering Wolf.

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