Michael Chabon's 'Adventures of Kavalier and Clay' Series Coming to Showtime

Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon - Publicity - H 2019
Andy Freeberg

Michael Chabon is expanding his relationship with CBS Television Studios.

The author, who serves as showrunner on the studio's forthcoming Star Trek: Picard for CBS All Access, has, alongside his writer wife, Ayelet Waldman, signed an overall deal with the studio. Under the pact, Chabon and Waldman will adapt the former's 2000 novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay as a limited series for CBS TV Studios' corporate sibling Showtime.

The series, which earned Chabon the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, will be written and exec produced by the husband and wife duo and has received a series commitment from the premium cable network. Chabon and Waldman will serve as showrunners on Kavalier and Clay. Chabon will transition to the new series, an epic tale of love, war and the birth of America's comic book superhero obsession in big band-era New York, in 2020 and exit Picard. The series is a co-production with Paramount Television, which controlled the rights to the book.

Chabon will remain showrunner on the highly anticipated Star Trek: Picard — launching Jan. 23 — as writing on season two of the Patrick Stewart vehicle is already underway. (The drama has not officially been renewed for a sophomore run, though that is considered a shoo-in given the interest in the show and its position as a platform-defining series for subscription platform All Access.) It's unclear who will take over showrunning duties on Picard once Chabon transitions to Kavalier and Clay.

Star Trek franchise captain Alex Kurtzman will exec produce Kavalier and Clay alongside fellow Picard exec producer Akiva Goldsman. The Showtime miniseries take arrives decades after Chabon worked with producer Scott Rudin to adapt the beloved title for the big screen with Paramount Pictures. In the years that followed, six drafts of the script were completed and Sydney Pollack was attached to direct the feature, with Jude Law in talks to play Kavalier. By late 2004, however, Chabon declared the film dead. Rumors about a film based on the best-seller persisted in the years that followed, with Stephen Daldry at one point attached to the title and actors including Tobey Maguire, Jamie Bell, Natalie Portman, Andrew Garfield, Ryan Gosling, Ben Whishaw and Jason Schwartzman all rumored to be in the mix. By 2007, Chabon noted the project had gone "south," citing "studio politics." Daldry's name resurfaced when, in a December 2011 interview, he revealed he was considering adapting Kavalier and Clay for TV, envisioning the eight-part series at HBO. Nothing came of that effort, either.

In addition to Picard and Kavalier and Clay, CBS TV Studios will have exclusive rights to produce TV content created and developed by Chabon and Waldman as part of the multiple-year deal. Financial terms of the pact were not immediately available.

"Ayelet and Michael are two of America’s preeminent writers,” said CBS Television Studios president David Stapf. “From award-winning novels and nonfiction to their television and film collaborations, they have a remarkable body of work. We’re thrilled to have them on our incredibly talented roster.”

Waldman and Chabon have multiple TV projects in various stages of development, including Showtime's A Really Good Day starring Anna Chlumsky (Veep). That is based on Waldman's book about microdosing with LSD. Peter Berg, Michael Lombardo and Elizabeth Roy exec produce that project via Film44. They're also prepping Behind You, from National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson, for Hulu; as well as The Heavens and Ghost Ship, which are both in early development and have not yet been taken out to networks.

“The team at CBS Studios is the best we’ve ever worked with,” Waldman and Chabon said in a joint statement Tuesday. “We’re looking forward with so much excitement to this next phase of our collaboration.”

On the book side, the duo are curating an anthology of essays titled Fight of the Century for ViacomCBS-owned publisher Simon & Schuster. Waldman, for her part, is the best-selling author behind A Really Good Day, Love and Treasure, Bad Mother and more. She exec produced Netflix's Golden Globe-nominated Unbelievable. Chabon, for his part, has written titles including Wonder Boys, Moonglow, The Yiddish Policeman's Union, Telegraph Avenue, Summerland and several other works and short story collections. He's won prizes including the Hugo — the Oscar of comic books — and several others. For TV and film, his credits also include scripts for John Carter, Spider-Man 2, Unbelievable and an installment of All Access' Short Treks.

Kavalier and Clay is the latest TV project in the works for Kurtzman, who has his own rich overall deal with CBS TV Studios. His roster of series includes CBS' Hawaii Five-0, CBS All Access' Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek: Discovery, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Picard and the James Comey miniseries based on A Higher Loyalty (which has not formally been set up at a network despite being fully cast).