Monday, August 19, 2013

IT'S ON! History greenlights Houdini miniseries

Just few days after I posted my rundown of the various Houdini movies in development in Hollywood and asked the question which one, if any, will break free of Development Hell first -- we have our answer!

History announced today that they has given the greenlight to their four-hour Houdini miniseries. Adrien Brody will play Houdini with Kristen Connolly (House of Cards) as Bess. Oscar nominee Uli Edel will direct the project, which is a Lionsgate/A&E Studios co-production. The executive producer is Gerald W. Abrams.

History has also confirmed my own sneaky little scoop that Houdini is written by Nicholas Meyer (whose father wrote the 1976 book, Houdini: A Mind in Chains).

Other crew include Patrizia von Brandenstein (Amadeus) as production designer and Karl Walter Lindenlaub as the cinematographer. Dirk Hoogstra and Julian P. Hobbs will oversee for History.

Production is set to begin in the fall.

Houdini follows the man behind the magic as he finds fame, engages in espionage, battles spiritualists and encounters the greatest names of the era, from U.S. presidents to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Grigori Rasputin. The drama will chronicle the life of a man who can defy death through his stunts, his visions and his mastery of illusion.

"It's not magic that History has established a strong track record with its high-quality historical dramas from quality auspices. We’re excited to build on that tremendous momentum with Houdini," said Dirk Hoogstra at History. "The Great Harry Houdini is a fascinating man in history and I have no doubt that Adrien Brody will bring the magician’s riveting story to life for our audience."

Kristen Connolly as Bess.
"Since my childhood, when I dreamed of being a great magician, Harry Houdini has been one of my heroes," Brody said. "His bravery and obsessive determination still fascinate me. Houdini mastered the art of escape -- not only from physical chains, but from poverty and the social constraints of a humble immigrant origin. His life story appeals to the universal longing for acceptance with which we all can identify. To portray him is beyond an honor."

Added Lionsgate Television Group president Kevin Beggs: "It's exciting to be working with History, Adrien and our extraordinary creative and producing partners on Houdini. We're also delighted to be expanding Lionsgate's overall relationship with A+E Networks."

The inclusion of Lionsgate as a co-producer is a surprising bit of news. Lionsgate had been developing their own Houdini project based on the book The Secret Life of Houdini. So what might this mean for that project?

This is awesome news. This marks their first new Houdini film production in five years and, yay, it's a biopic!

I'm going to need a bigger blog.


  1. Odd choice since Houdini was stocky and only 5'6 and Brody is over 6 feet tall and skinny. They're going to have to redesign that Water Torture Cell. LOL

    1. Yeah, they are definitely not a match body-wise, but I don't think that's really all that important.

  2. I can't wait to see it. I loved him as the lead in the "Pianist." I am intrigued by Harry Houdini. This is going to be really good.

  3. Awesome - glad it's this one that made it out of the gate.

    1. Me too. I had a feeling all along this was the one that was going to happen.

  4. I'm always willing to be pleasantly surprised, but having seen Connolly in "House of Cards", it's difficult to picture her as Bess.

    Kathleen Beller, when she was about 30 or so, would have nailed it.

  5. I hope its more accurate of his life.

    1. That would be nice, but I'm accepting that there will be some fictionalization. That's just the nature of the beast.

      I'm wondering if Lionsgate is involved because History/A&E needed to make a deal with them to use the "Houdini was a spy" element from Secret Life? I hope not. It would be a shame to perpetuate this fiction.