3:15pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
George Clooney to Star in 'Catch-22' Adaptation From Paramount TV (Exclusive)
George Clooney is returning to the small screen.
The Oscar winner and Emmy nominee is set to star and direct a limited series based on the seminal Joseph Heller novel Catch-22.
The six-episode project, produced by Paramount Television and Anonymous Content, does not yet have a network. The package, co-written by Luke Davies (Lion) and David Michod (War Machine), will be shopped next month. With a proven star in Clooney, it is expected to land a sizable fee at a deep-pocketed outlet.
Catch-22 was originally adapted into a 1970 Paramount feature film directed by Mike Nichols and starring Alan Arkin, Martin Balsam, Richard Benjamin and Bob Newhart. Richard Dreyfuss later starred in an ABC half-hour pilot produced by Paramount Television in 1973 that never went forward.
Catch-22 is set in Italy during World War II and tells the story of Yossarian, a U.S. Air Force bombardier trying to fulfill his service requirements so he can go home. The novel explored the paradox of requirements where airmen who felt mentally unfit to fly were not obligated to do so, but anyone who applied to stop flying was sane enough to fly.
Clooney will play Col. Cathcart, the role initially played by Balsam in the Nichols feature. Clooney and his Smokehouse Pictures producing partner Grant Heslov (Good Night, and Good Luck, Argo, The Ides of March) will direct and executive produce. The episodes were co-written by Davies and Michôd, who will also exec produce. Anonymous Content's Richard Brown and Steve Golin are also on board as exec producers.
Catch-22 will mark Clooney's return to the small screen following his Emmy-nominated turn on NBC's ER. His TV credits include Memphis Beat, Roseanne, Sisters and The Facts of Life. On the big screen, the actor's work includes an Oscar win for his supporting turn in Syriana and as part of the cast of best picture winner Argo. Clooney was nominated for writing Good Night, and Good Luck and scored lead actor Oscar nominations for The Descendants, Up in the Air and Michael Clayton. His directing credits include Suburbicon, which he also wrote and produced; The Monuments Men; The Ides of March; Leatherheads; Good Night, and Good Luck; and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
Clooney and Heslov are repped by CAA; Davies is with UTA and EML Entertainment; and Michod is with UTA.
Catch-22 with Clooney attached represents a coup for Paramount Television. The company is also behind Netflix's 13 Reasons Why and the upcoming Emma Stone and Jonah Hill starrer Maniac from director Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) and TNT's forthcoming The Alienist. Paramount TV also recently announced development on Girls Code, a female-driven tech comedy set up at Freeform with Paul Feig attached to direct.
The collaboration between Paramount TV and Anonymous Content has produced four shows: 13 Reasons Why, The Alienist, Maniac and Epix's Berlin Station. Anonymous Content, which is also behind USA Network's Mr. Robot and Netflix's The O.A., recently extended its first-look deal with Paramount Television through 2019.
Clooney becomes the latest A-lister to move to television. Jennifer Aniston is set to star opposite Reese Witherspoon in a morning news show drama that landed at Apple with a two-season order, while Julia Roberts is signed on to star in Sam Esmail's take on the popular podcast Homecoming, which landed at Amazon with a two-season pickup.