Tom Wolfe's 1987 bestseller about 1980s New York City, The Bonfire of the Vanities, is being adapted into a drama series for Amazon. That's not surprising, since Bonfire is a searing "critique of the excesses of the era", but what is shocking is that Chuck Lorre, successful sitcom creator of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, is developing it.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the show would be eight episodes:
Margaret Nagle (Boardwalk Empire, Red Band Society) is set to pen the script and exec produce alongside Lorre. Author and political reporter David Corn will serve as a consultant. Amazon Studios, WBTV and Chuck Lorre Productions are the producers on it.
Like Tom Wolfe's 1987 novel, the potential series is described as a drama about ambition, racism, social class, politics and greed in 1980s New York City. The tale is told through three main characters: WASP bond trader Sherman McCoy, Jewish assistant district attorney Larry Kramer and British journalist Peter Fallow.
was adapted into a movie directed by Brian de Palma with Tom Hanks (as McCoy), Bruce Willis (as Fallow) and Saul Rubinek (as Kramer)—with Melanie Griffith as McCoy's mistress—and it famously bombed in 1990.
Wolfe had originally published the story in 27 serial installments in Rolling Stone. The author told us last year:
[T]he problem with writing serially is that if you make a mistake there’s not much you can do about it, such as having a guy in the wrong occupation. I had him as a writer living on Park Avenue in the ‘70s, and that just doesn’t happen. [Laughs] I could see it was the wrong setting.
I had a meeting with some Wall Street people because of a friend of mine who was in the business, and it was just before the serial was about to begin, and I thought, hey these guys are interesting. I felt it was too late to change gears.
I can tell you that writing serially is a killer. I wrote three installments ahead of time so I’d have something to fall back on, but Jann Wenner ran all three in the first issue. I can remember nights, dead tired—this was out in Long Island—where I’d go to sleep at 10, and then I’d wake up when the clock struck 12, and that was the end of sleep for me. I finally got over that.
You can see Dickens spinning his wheels sometimes, he doesn’t know what the hell to write, so he drags out something that’s not very interesting. The best serial writer was [Émile] Zola, I think, but he would wait until he’d written probably 40 percent of the book, and if you’ve written that much, the real problems are all settled.
He added, "When I wrote it I didn’t think of this as any kind of indictment of the city, my attitude was more, God, look at what that one does! And look at that one! It was just wonder, really, at how people live in New York."