Steven Soderbergh wants you to know that he’s retired from making feature films, not from telling stories. He has a stage version of Magic Mike in the works, a musical about Cleopatra and a new play written by Side Effects and Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns. Add to these a twelve-hour TV project, adapting the infamously “unfilmable” novel, The Sot-Weed Factor.
EW make it clear that Soderbergh is adapting John Barth’s 1960 novel of this name, not Ebenezer Cooke’s The Sot-weed Factor: or, A Voyage to Maryland In which is Describ’d The Laws, Government, Courts and Constitutions of the Country.
Ebenezer Cooke is a character in Barth’s book. Perhaps this is a clue to the approach Soderbergh is taking.
I was going to do it as a movie, but I couldn’t figure it out. So now I’ve had it adapted as 12 one-hour episodes… I think I’ve come up with a solve to do it cheaply. It’s bold. If it works, it’ll be super cool. And if it doesn’t, you won’t be able to watch ten minutes of it. I don’t want to make a fucking $85 million, 12-hour comedy set in the [1600s]. That’s why I started thinking this way.
Which way? Well, I do wonder if he’s going to be making a “new work” that relates to Barth’s novel the way Barth’s novel related to Cooke’s original book.
And so I can’t help but think of Michael Winterbottom’s Cock and Bull story, a sorta-kinda adaptation of Tristram Shandy. Does that have anything in common with Soderbergh’s plans?
Also pretty mysterious, for now at least, is where or how we’ll be able to see this show. I’m calling it TV, but perhaps only in the sense that Netflix is TV. Soderbergh is looking for a profit-share plan to pay for his involvement, and I’m wondering if this whole series is set for some kind of VOD on online streaming system. Are Soderbergh and Mark Cuban still on good terms?
Incidentally, the trailer for Behind The Candelabra seemed to be released while I was away being all poorly. It was well worth catching up with.