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14 years ago, we learned that Denis Leary’s Apostle production company was developing a television series based on Andrew Niccol’s sci-fi drama “Gattaca.” It was a vague announcement buried in a story about the conclusion of Leary’s FX show “Rescue Me.” There wasn’t so much as a logline. All we knew was that Gil Grant, a relentlessly mainstream TV writer best known for working on “24” and “NCIS,” had been placed in charge of developing this cerebral property for Apostle. Nothing ever came of it, and we all forgot it was ever a thing — until today.
According to Deadline, “Homeland” co-creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa are developing a “Gattaca” series for Showtime via Sony Pictures Television. There’s nary a word about Apostle in the trade break, but one of the original film’s producers, Danny DeVito, is back in the fold. These are talented folks, but was there a story left to be told about Ethan Hawke’s genetically inferior “Invalid” who poses as a “Valid” to fulfill his dream of space exploration? Evidently!
Gattaca’s Time Has Depressingly Arrived
Deadline has revealed that the series will be set a generation ahead of Niccol’s film, and will focus on an “Invalid” man who assumes the identity of a genetically superior “Valid” to, er, fulfill his dream of space exploration. Gordon and Gansa will likely hop all over the third rail of eugenics, which has been a concern of science-fiction since “Star Trek” fans were introduced to Ricardo Montalban’s Khan Noonien Singh on the series’ “Space Seed” episode. There’s potential for a cat-and-mouse thriller if they full-on copy the original film’s narrative and have the “Invalid” protagonist (Ethan Hawke) investigated by his “Valid” brother (Loren Dean).
Most interesting to me is Niccol’s total lack of involvement. Thanks to the heady, late-1990s one-two punch of “Gattaca” and “The Truman Show” (he only scripted the latter), Niccol was considered a genius screenwriter. He stumbled badly with the sci-fi satire “S1M0NE,” and failed in his bid to knock out the arms dealer equivalent of “Goodfellas” with 2005’s “Man of War.” He attempted a comeback with 2011’s “In Time,” which posited a society in which people scramble to buy time to live longer after their 25th birthday. It was basically “Logan’s Run” without a whiff of camp.
Niccol’s ideas are more relevant now than they ever have been, but he hasn’t made a movie since the critically panned “Anon” in 2018. “Gattaca” was his baby, and, as a writer-director, is by far his best movie. Maybe it’s time to cut the former wunderkind back in.
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