Monday, January 9th, 2012

And Another Incredible Thing: The Script for the Pilot

I have the script for the Magicians pilot. OK, I had it all weekend. I’ve just been told that I can talk about this.

First let me say: I can take zero credit for this thing. It’s by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz: they did X-Men: First Class and Thor, as well as a ton of TV work on Fringe, the Sarah Connor Chronicles and Andromeda. Frankly I didn’t want to get too involved: it took me 40 years to figure out how novels work, I wasn’t going to understand screenplays or teleplays or whatever right they are right off the bat. I’m not a Scalzi or a Gaiman, leaping nimbly from medium to medium with the grace of a gazelle. We chatted back and forth quite a bit while they worked, but I’ve never met them in person. I didn’t know what to expect.

I certainly didn’t expect this: it is fantastic. Amazeballs would not be too strong a word to use about this script. I’m not even trying to be funny. If I didn’t think so I would have just kept mum, but I can’t keep mum. It’s just too good.

I also can’t tell you too much in the way of details yet. But I will say:

— I laughed my ass off, start to finish. It’s funny.

— It’s edgy. This isn’t HBO, so there’s a limit to what can happen and what can get said, but somehow the darkness is there, all of it. I don’t know how they did that.

— It’s TV. The big challenge was always going to be to reshape the bones of the story, to take it apart and put it back together so it fit into episodes instead of chapters, and seasons instead of books. The Magicians (book) is a slow burn, but in TV you can’t afford that. This first episode — it’s a monster. It’s this dense, intense mystery that sucks you right in. I was dying to know what happens next, and I already know!

— It’s moving. I’ve said elsewhere that what great fantasy does best, for me, is longing. When I read the script, I felt that — I felt the longing. I’ve never seen anything else like this on TV. These are just smart writers who know their medium and know fantasy. We got very, very lucky.

With a little more luck, you’ll get to see what I mean. It’s with the network now.

22 comments on “And Another Incredible Thing: The Script for the Pilot

  1. imagin[ace]tion says:

    I can’t wait!

  2. Sarah says:

    Super pumped!

    (Also, I’m glad it’s not HBO. They think they’re edgy, but they’re playing into what’s popular and gratuitous nudity isn’t really pushing the envelope anymore.)

    I actually think that Fox developing it is awesome–gives more focus on writing an excellent story. I am so so excited for this! 🙂

  3. Kymmi says:

    This is fantastic news. While I’m a fan of HBO shows, FOX turns out some good product too (Fringe being a favorite). You can’t really judge a show on the network alone – I loved BSG as much as anyone, but thought Sci-Fi missed the point of the Dresden Files.

  4. Emil says:

    Great news… I’m just listening to the audio book of ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, and comparing it to the film. So I’m quite interested in this sensitive task of adaption, thanks for sharing these details.

  5. Rita says:

    That is great news! I can’t wait to see it!

  6. Molly says:

    I second what Sarah said. HBO loves that they have the freedom to be edgy, if they’d like to be, but the way they accomplish that feeling seems so predictable at this point that it isn’t really entertaining or exciting anymore. I think FX will do a great job – just look at how successful the first season of ‘Glee’ was, and how much love Zooey Deschanel’s ‘New Girl’ is getting. I can’t wait for this!

  7. dennitzio says:

    I don’t think we’ve seen anything quite like this on TV before – based on my interpretation of your interpretation of the interpretation of your novel, anyway. I’m looking forward to pilot season next year! I’m going to keep a close eye out for this one.

  8. Laur says:

    YEY!!! This is so exciting! I do hope it will make it through the Hollywood machine and grace our screens soon. 😀

  9. Any idea when it’s due to broadcast? I’ve not been this excited about a TV show since Star Trek: The Next Generation and Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

  10. Paula Jameson says:

    I’m glad you are so pleased with the script. I love HBO and was somewhat disappointed when you posted the series would be with Fox and not HBO. However, I suspect that you will get a much larger teenage audience by having it on Fox and will probably sell more books to that audience. That is a good outcome. I would like to see teens watching something other than reality shows.

  11. M says:


  12. Sam M-B says:

    Re: “longing”. Yes, this. This is why I loved The Magicians. (Well, one of the dozen larger reasons, at least.) It got the longing right. Best of luck in getting the pilot produced, Lev. If Fox needs access to a money truck, I will raid my kids piggy banks for this. They’ll thank me later.

  13. […] (Grossman published a sequel, “The Magician King,” last year, and the first book is in development as a possible Fox TV series.) Though the alternate worlds Grossman creates — including a school of magic — are […]

  14. […] (Grossman published a sequel, “The Magician King,” last year, and the first book is in development as a possible Fox TV series.) Though the alternate worlds Grossman creates — including a school of magic — are […]

  15. […] (Grossman published a sequel, “The Magician King,” last year, and the first book is in development as a possible Fox TV series.) Though the alternate worlds Grossman creates — including a school of magic — are […]

  16. Sara says:

    I hope they don’t fuck it up. Your stories deserve the best adaptation possible. Hopefully, at least, they manage to get your dialogue in there.

  17. K. M. Walton says:

    That sounds like quite a moment, holding your script in your hands. Definitely amazeballs. Can’t wait to see the actual show.

  18. C. Corrigan says:

    Oh my! I can’t wait! I have been taken over by this story since I stumbled across The Magicians! I’ve always thought it’d make a great movie/show! To put in how Julia (from the stories) would put it: I can not wait.

  19. Jack says:

    They don’t happen to be holding open casting calls in the Boston area, right?

    Because, you know, that’d be pretty stellar.

  20. Mel says:

    I’m sitting here with happiness all over my face. I just discovered The Magicians about 72 hours ago–bought the Audible edition for a plane ride–and was immediately sucked in by its industrial Shop-Vac pull. The discovery of a new author that I like this much (last time this happened: Kate Atkinson) always fills me with a sense of tremendous wealth, and to find out in addition to a sequel waiting for me, there’s a screenplay THAT THE AUTHOR LIKES is more richness than I may be able to handle at once.

    My face hurts from smiling.

  21. Scribbler says:

    Wow, amazing! Just got hold of this bok a few days back while wandering about in the bookstore… and now it’s gonna be a TV Series! I am liking the book so far and sincerely hope that it would be as amazing as it is in the series adaptation.

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