Thursday, February 9th, 2012

This Is a Hard Post to Write

So January is the beginning of what — in the accursed, eternally burning nation of TV-land — is known as pilot season. That’s when the networks pick some of the series they have in development and greenlight them, meaning they’re actually going to cast and film a pilot episode.

It’s an exciting time. Except if your series doesn’t get greenlit.

The Magicians show was not greenlit.

This is a hard post to write. I’m really, really disappointed. I also feel bad that I got everybody excited about the project, only onlineusadrugstore24.com to have it immediately fail. I promise you — and I can’t stress this enough — I wouldn’t have done that unless I had some very good reasons to think that the show would in fact be greenlit. In fact I’m pretty stunned that it wasn’t.

I guess those reasons weren’t ironclad. Or maybe they were ironclad but not, I don’t know, adamantium-clad.

At any rate, clearly there was an issue with the cladding.

I don’t have a lot of good information as to why it didn’t happen. I don’t deal with network directly, and even beyond that the networks are pretty black-box about stuff like this: they don’t give out a lot of detail about their decision-making process. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that it has something to do with Terra Nova not doing as well as Fox hoped, so they weren’t anxious to go for another high-profile, high-concept, expensive genre show.

But that’s just speculation. I can’t imagine The Magicians would have been as expensive as Terra Nova. For one thing there aren’t half as many acceraptors in it.


From here the way forward for the show gets rockier, obviously. We’re going to take the script to cable networks. We’re also going to renew talks on the feature-film side. I can’t say I’m bitter about it. I wouldn’t have played my cards differently — we got exactly the right people and exactly the right script. It would have been incredible. It still will be, if we can get it to go somewhere else.

But no question, it’s a big disappointment. We had a really good shot this time, and it didn’t work out.

102 comments on “This Is a Hard Post to Write

  1. Scribbler says:

    That just sucks! Would have loved to have Brakebills and Fillory seen on TV. Hope the cable networks would have this.

  2. Sarah says:

    So sad. I was really looking forward to this!

    Anyways, I’m a huge fan of the series (along with everybody else) and an aspiring writer (along with everybody else). If you ever decide to take an intern, I’ll be looking for employment/slave labor in about a year as a recent post-grad, and I’d love nothing more than to read and write and fetch coffee.

  3. JOSHUA says:

    Would not the format of a feature film work better anyway???

  4. Sarah says:

    If it’s an consolation, many young people I know have nothing but netflix anyway. I know you had your heart set on Fox, but seriously, we’re all going to be watching no matter what network it’s on. Good luck! 😀

  5. dennitzio says:

    Sorry, dude. Was looking forward to bribing you to win the VFX contract, too… Crossing my fingers for cable – you know, I’ve heard Speed is looking to go geek…

  6. hdk says:

    well im sad. But maybe in the end its a good thing. FOX is known for dropping good shows like flies. With Game of Thrones becoming popular. And True Blood being a hit, maybe its better if the series went on the cable. HBO is also making Dark Towers and American Gods into series.

    So I bet other cable companies will look for their original and good (dark) fantasy show. 😉

  7. Netflix says:

    This sounds like a project that NetFlix or similar might be willing to get into. You’ve probably approached, but if not, give them a try. Would love to see the books on the little or big screen!

  8. Juliette Ball says:

    I think Fancy Cable would work better for The Magicians in all honesty. They’re just clamoring to make as many books into TV shows as they possibly can.

  9. Colin Fraizer says:

    Ouch! I’m sorry things didn’t work out with the networks, but I will hope for better news with the cable networks. I’m sure you’ll be able to coax them into bringing the Magicians to the screen. If all else fails, you could deploy Julia’s nonmagical power. Wield it with an iron fist!

    Seriously, I would love to see a series or film, but I doubt any medium can bring these characters and themes to life better than your novels already have.

  10. […] it any easier. (Lev Grossman—who, full disclosure, works with me at TIME—recently blogged about Fox passing on the pilot script for a TV version of his epic fantasy novel The Magicians. I haven’t seen the script and […]

  11. Bob says:

    Try Syfy, but don’t let them cheap out on you. You don’t want them turning “The Magicians” into another “Riverworld” or “Dinocroc vs. Supergator.” And for heaven’s sake, make sure they don’t try to compress it into too few episodes to actually tell and savor the story. “The Magicians” should be a flagship series.

  12. K.H. says:

    I understand the disappointment. I hope it might make the author feel just the littlest bit better to know that there are readers–me among them–who dread a favorite book, so vivid and specific in one’s own imagination, being made into a tv show or film. I’m glad I get to keep “The Magicians” as it exists on the page and in my head just a little longer. And you know what? I bet I’m far from the only one.

  13. […] = true; s.src = 'http://widgets.digg.com/buttons.js'; s1.parentNode.insertBefore(s, s1); })(); Some unfortunate news from Grossman this morning: So January is the beginning of what — in the accursed, eternally […]

  14. Haley says:

    I agree with the past few people, in that, I would hate to see such a rich piece of literature(and that is exactly as I see it) to be half-assed. When something else does come along… Suggest open auditions! I’m a young actor, and it would be dynamite to be a part of these books on screen. I think great success could come from new faces, much like they did with Girl with the Dragon Tattoo… Though, come to think of it… Roonie Mara would be a pretty stellar Julia… Though she is a bit old for the part… Anyway. Rant over. Good luck, can’t wait for the next book!

  15. Mark Crane says:

    I’m teaching 80 students right now. Two of them watch non-recorded television. I really want both books to be made into a series of movies. They deserve no less.

  16. Alicia says:

    This is really something!

  17. Drew says:

    I think this would be a better script for a movie series anyway. I always hate when television has to drag out books and add stories that were not intended to be there. Take it to the silver screen!
    p.s. I LOVE the books

  18. Kelsey says:

    As I read “Magicians” the first time, I envisioned it as a movie. I gave actors, real or fictional, to each of the characters. I imagined the landscape, the faces of the characters when they said nothing, the cuts of the camera from sentence to sentence. I fell in love with it. It was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Lots of depth, great story, and it was told well visually.

    This book deserves a film. It deserves a film from a director and a producer who see the vision of the book. Who have read the book 10 times, who know it by heart. And most importantly, they must understand the nuances of the silence, and put that in screen as often as possible.

  19. John says:

    Just finished listening to The Magicians on audio book and kept thinking to myself “I wonder if anyone has thought of adapting this to the screen.” Sorry to hear it hasn’t worked out thus far. Good luck in getting there eventually! I look forward to picking up The Magician King next.

  20. Katheryne says:

    It saddens me that it wont be happening. I must say that i loved the series and even concocted a sound track for The Magicians movie, including “Uprising” by Muse for the battle against Martin and “Hotel California” for the bar in Fillory.

  21. Katheryne says:

    ..and also “Madness” by Muse for when Quentin loses Alice…

  22. Beverly says:

    I have so enjoyed all the magician books and have highly recommended them to all my adult and teenage fantasy reader friends. This is the first I heard of the possibility of a tv series and hopeful it will happen. I can only imagine some of the choosers are daft…Good luck and please don’t give up.

  23. Africa Belgrave says:

    Hi, I read the books last year and love them. I was actually disappointed when I heard Fox was involved. Lev, this is a blessing in disguise. Your story is too good and too dark for network TV. Go to cable, preferably HBO or AMC. I think that will be best. Your story has the best parts of fantast stories: youth, imagination, and darkness. So don’t give up, we’ll still be here when it gets greenlit

  24. Michael says:

    I really love this series, and agree that Network TV only wants the hottest new reality gag right now. Which cable networks are you approaching? Perhaps you can use your blog to organize a write in campaign after you submit your application. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. Good luck!

  25. Jackie says:

    Frankly, I am happy it didn’t get greenlit. TV would water it down to appeal to the halfhearted reality TV audience. Cable and the big screen will do a much better job of capturing this amazing tale on screen! Love this series, absolutely love it! Hang in there! *insert photo of kitten*

  26. Adam says:

    I’m coming at this late, but I for one am thoroughly relieved to discover that this didn’t work out as planned for you.

    “The Magicians” on network TV? That would be even more disastrous than making an epic David Mitchell book into a big budget movie starring Tom Hanks. And no one would ever think that was a good idea.

    If anything, I could see “The Magicians” working really well as an indie film. Kind of like the first Twilight movie. Gritty. Dark. Rough in places. And with an end in sight. The biggest problem with network series is that the networks are never willing to let ’em end. So they go on and on, and they wind up sucking. And everyone only remembers the suck, not the good years.

    Consider yourself lucky.

  27. Eric says:

    I tend to agree with several supporters here who feel that The Magicians is a better fit for a movie. Let the miracle works of the profound and saturating experience of the movies do what needs to be done for this story.

    I get the impression that TV is a tough nut to crack, more of a whore market if you will, finagling for ad drenched eyeballs. This is a higher art form than that man, just accept that it is. 🙂

    You didn’t find yourself in The Breakbills, just to end up back in some shitty version of Manhattan with some lame contract for a show that nobody cares about. You’ve earned a quality run for your efforts.

    Portraying a concept like the fountains in some cleverish, gothy, uber-meta-physical series? I just don’t see where it ends.

    I want something that grabs my psyche the way the books do. Never got that much from TV.

  28. Shaina says:

    I am currently reading The Magicians and was thinking about how great a movie it would make. I came across your blog in my quick search and I am extremely disappointed it is not in production yet. I think it would make a better movie than a TV show, and I hope it happens sooner rather than later!

  29. Tony G says:

    I have read every book Lev Grossman has written that I could get my hands on. I think I could make it work, I know exactly who to pitch to and how I would to get the Magicians moving. I want it…I am an actor I worked in NYC for awhile and I have a few avenues….Let your fans help Mr. Grossman the books are genius and NOW is the perfect time for the adaptation to screen. My Ideas are sound and I even, after reading these posts have researched places to shoot I have a connection in upstate NY and I have your Castle. Let me help!!

  30. […] & Zack Stentz aboard to do the writing but didn’t go forward. Grossman said at the time on his blog he was disappointed the project didn’t stick, but that it would be shopped to cable […]

  31. […] when an adaptation was acquired by Fox but ultimately did not pan out. At the time, Lev Grossman expressed disappointment in the news, as well as hope in cable network and even feature film […]

  32. […] The Magicians was originally planned as a Fox series, with X-Men: First Class and Thor writers Ashley Miller & Zack Stentz. However, that fell through the cracks in February of 2012 in the wake of the expensive sci-fi series Terra Nova‘s failure, prompting a disheartening blog post by Grossman. […]

  33. […] greenlit for a pilot and ended up not moving forward. At the time, Grossman took to his blog to express his disappointment at the failed project, but explained his plans to move forward with the possibility of an adaptation, either with a […]

  34. […] picked up for a TV series adaptation back in 2012. However, it was Fox who had been looking at it, so naturally they dumped it before anything was greenlit. And based on their track record, this probably means that this show will be the greatest thing to […]

  35. […] The Magicians. This is fantastic news for fans of the series who were disappointed that the show never progressed at Fox and it looked like we wouldn’t get a show after […]

  36. Alys says:

    I’ve just finished reading the first book and loved it. you should consider doing an anime tv series. Most of the book I pictured most of the characters and scenes with that kind of style in my head

  37. […] project was originally housed at Fox but fell through after the failure of Terra Nova, prompting a disheartening blog post from Grossman. Now, though, Syfy has taken the series under its wing, green-lighting a 12-episode first season to […]

  38. Natalie says:

    Lame. Its a good sign though that it didn’t get picked up because that means it was probably really well cast, acted, and directed. There’s so little else out there. Don’t give up. Release the pilot on YouTube. Se how many hits you get. See where it goes.

  39. I dream all the time about the cinematic masterpiece that will be the opening scene of Magician’s Land, where King Elliott sees off the invasion. It’s like the opening of a Bond film, that beautiful microstory full of wit. I am glad it’s not a TV series – it’s worth more than that. In our times, we need more than anything stories of cool people willing to play with power – striving to balance their power and their humanity – and that is a big story for a big screen, not a campy show. Plus it is wise, and Julia is the ultimate character for any actor. She is the Snape of this one. I think you could make Fillory like they made Narnia in a big warehouse with CGI in Central Europe. Please keep the faith you gorgeous writer. Don’t see where it goes. Imagine the most wonderful retelling you can imagine – in a play, in a movie – and ask the universe and all of us to help you get there.

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  41. […] book trilogy with their own money, after an earlier attempt to adapt the books for television failed at Fox — describe the early days of season one as a challenging, sometimes frustrating […]

  42. […] book trilogy with their own money, after an earlier attempt to adapt the books for television failed at Fox — describe the early days of season one as a challenging, sometimes frustrating […]

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