Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman's New HBO Show

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
March 8 2011 12:27 PM

Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman's New HBO Show

Variety is reporting that authors and tireless lovebirds Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman are in the early stages of developing a show for HBO, tentatively titled Hobgoblin . The show "revolves around a motley group of conmen and magicians who use their skills at deception to battle Hitler and his forces during WWII."

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The premise sounds like something that could have been written and inked by Kavalier and Clay, the fictional Golden Age comics team from Chabon's most famous novel. Remember that one of the duo's signature creations was the Escapist (civilian name: Tom Mayflower) who had a Houdini-like ability to wrench himself free from chains—both the literal kind and the symbolic ones of fascism. (The character has since featured in real-world comic books .)

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It's too early to know what's going to happen with Hobgoblin , but the project seems to signal HBO's increasing interest in fantastical, fannish properties—first the vampire soap True Blood became a huge hit, and now, as we mentioned yesterday , the channel is pushing the alternate-world drama Game of Thrones as its next epic series.

HBO, which kicked off the current Golden Age of longform television, seems like a good spiritual home for Chabon. In an interview with the A.V. Club from 2000—after he'd just had a pilot script rejected by CBS—Chabon said:

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There's something inherently more appealing about the idea that you could reveal and tell stories about characters over the course of a TV season—13 or 26 episodes, whatever it might be—than in the course of one two-hour movie. You can do so many more novelistic kinds of things on a TV show-with time, with gradual development of relationships, and so on-than you could possibly do in a movie. And that is very appealing.

In the same interview, Chabon said he'd originally thought about taking that CBS show, a time-spanning family drama called House of Gold , to HBO or Showtime, but that "it didn't seem like it had the quote-unquote ... 'edge' that those kinds of networks favor in what they do run."

Nazi-battling crooks were pretty edgy when Tarantino did them . I doubt Chabon and Waldman's take will be quite so bloody and scalp-obsessed, but I'm excited about this one nonetheless.

Photograph of Michael Chabon courtesy of Valerie Macon/GettyImages. Photograph of Ayelet Waldman courtesy of Alberto E. Rodriguez/GettyImages.

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Nina Shen Rastogi is a writer and editor, and is also the vice president for content at Figment.

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