Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” Coming to Showtime

Part of an overall CBS Television deal with Chabon and Ayelet Waldman

Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon in 2019.
Gage Skidmore

Michael Chabon’s novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay was first published in 2000, and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize the following year. It’s also a novel that has prompted many of its readers to observe that, hey, this would make a pretty amazing movie. There’s plenty of precedent for that: Chabon’s earlier novel Wonder Boys is one of the rare critically acclaimed novels that was adapted for the screen in a critically acclaimed form.

Now the long wait for news of a Kavalier & Clay adaptation has finally come to an end, with the news that Chabon’s novel is coming to a screen — just not the big one. 

Variety reports that Showtime has committed to a television series version of Chabon’s novel — and it’s one of many projects in the offering from Chabon and his producing partner (and wife) Ayelet Waldman, whose books include the microdosing memoir A Really Good Day. An adaptation of that is also in the works for Showtime, starring Anna Chlumsky.

Between this news and the film version of Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn hitting theaters earlier this fall, it’s a big moment for long-gestating early-2000s literary adaptations.

Chabon has had one foot in the film and television world for a while now. In 1996, he wrote a treatment for an X-Men film that was ultimately not used; more recently, he’s been the showrunner for Star Trek: Picard. Variety’s report on the Kavalier & Clay adaptation suggests Chabon will be showrunning that and stepping away from his work on Picard

In an interview last year with IndieWire, Chabon spoke about his experience working in the Star Trek universe, which also included a short film. He spoke of the essential storytelling questions he could deal with there: “What is a human being? Who is a human being? What is the essence of humanity?”

For viewers curious to see more of Chabon’s take on the Star Trek universe, Star Trek: Picard will debut on January 23 on CBS All Access.

Chabon and Waldman’s overall deal is with CBS Television Studios, Variety reports. And adapting their own work isn’t the only project they’ll be handling. Among the shows mentioned were an adaptation of Jacqueline Woodson’s Behind You and a project about the Ghost Ship warehouse fire. Given the role the Bay Area has played in both writers’ work, it’s an understandable choice for them to tackle. As for how the epic scope of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay translates into a television series, we’ll have to wait and see for a little while longer.

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