HBO Teams With RAI for Drama Series 'My Brilliant Friend'

Saverio Costanzo will direct the eight-part drama.
Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty Images

HBO has found its next drama series.

The pay cabler is teaming with Italian broadcaster RAI and director Saverio Costanzo for a series adaptation of Elena Ferrante's best-selling book My Brilliant Friend, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The eight-part drama centers on Elena Greco, a now-elderly woman who begins writing a story about her friendship with her closest friend when that friend seems to disappear without a trace. Friends since their first year of primary school in 1950, their story goes on to cover more than 60 years of their lives as Elena attempts to describe the mystery of Lila, both her best friend and her worst enemy.

Based on the first of Ferrante's four-part series, the drama begins production this summer in Naples, Italy. The project will be filmed in Italian.

Ferrante will write the series with Francesco Piccolo, Laura Paolucci and Costanzo, who will direct all eight episodes. Jennifer Schuur will exec produce. Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani (The Young Pope) will produce for Wildside, along with Domenico Procacci for Fandango. FremantleMedia International will handle international distribution.

My Brilliant Friend marks the latest international co-production for HBO, which partnered with Sky Atlantic and Canal for The Young Pope, which also shot in Italy and debuted in January.

The adaptation also comes after the network's success with another female-centered project, Big Little Lies, starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley, which wraps its acclaimed run Sunday.

"We are thrilled to partner with Wildside, RAI and Fandango to bring the powerful, epic storytelling of Elena Ferrante and her Neapolitan Novels to life," said HBO programming president Casey Bloys. "Through her characters, Elena and Lila, we will witness a lifelong friendship set against the seductive social web of Naples, Italy. An exploration of the complicated intensity of female friendship, these ambitious stories will no doubt resonate with the HBO audience.”

The project also brings Costanzo to HBO after he helmed 70 episodes of the Italian adaptation of the network's therapy drama In Treatment. His other credits include Hungry Hearts and In Memory of Me.

 “With My Brilliant Friend, RAI brings to TV screens the extraordinary publishing success by Elena Ferrante. This is an ambitious project that satisfies many of the public service’s objectives in the field of TV drama. It is Italian and international; it is universal but complex; it is a huge co-production with a global value," said RAI director general Antonio Campo Dall’Orto. "Thanks to a first-time cooperation with HBO, a cutting-edge broadcaster in the field of TV series and producers now established at the international level like Wildside and Fandango, the Italian TV drama takes another step forward in exporting Italian products around the world. A strategy that looks at quality and the market, playing the cards of Italian creativity and talent and of the high level of expertise reached in the creation and production of TV series.”

My Brilliant Friend joins HBO's slate of original dramas that also includes an upcoming second season of The Young Pope, the forthcoming third and final season of The Leftovers, Game of Thrones and Westworld.

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