News of Bob Odenkirk’s intention to not only produce a miniseries based on Twin Cities native David Carr’s 2008 memoir, “The Night of the Gun,” but play Carr himself spun around town pretty fast yesterday.
Odenkirk, best known as the feloniously resourceful lawyer Saul Goodman on “Breaking Bad” and its spinoff, “Better Call Saul,” has had the rights to the book for a while. The story goes that he was planning a meet-up with Carr when the New York Times media columnist died in February of last year.
Odenkirk’s deal is with AMC, home to both “Bad” and “Saul.” Shawn Ryan, who created “The Shield,” one of the early exercises in quality television by a cable channel, is in line to write as well as co-produce with Odenkirk. A scouting trip to the Twin Cities in the next couple weeks is on Odenkirk’s schedule, with plans to hear tales of Carr’s youth, early career, descent into junkie hell and storybook restoration to the point of being declared “the finest media reporter of his generation” by his boss, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet.
Talking to Variety, Helen Verno, executive vice president, movies and miniseries for Sony Pictures Television said: “David Carr’s life was the antithesis of formulaic and only a team as creative as this could bring it to life with authenticity, audacity and reverence.”
The usual Hollywood hyperbole notwithstanding, there’s an element of truth to the “antithesis of formulaic” part, although despite Carr’s much too early death, the narrative of “Night of the Gun” enjoys a remarkable arc of redemption.
Likewise, I suspect Carr, who in classic Carr-speak often referred to “adjacencies” he had developed in Hollywood over his years, would be entirely pleased with the Ryan-Odenkirk collaboration. The latter has clearly demonstrated an affinity for marginalized characters, like Saul Goodman, who exploit every asset available to them to succeed where the proper and more advantaged do not.
Also from the Variety piece: “Odenkirk commented: ‘I read David’s story, ‘The Night of the Gun,’ when it came out and was wildly entertained by his saga. It’s a story of survival filled with pain, crack, journalistic righteousness, abandoned cars, crooks, lies, and then there’s the two little girls who saved his life; it’s overstuffed with humanity. … I hope to do justice to David’s intellect and his scrappy nature. It’s gonna be crazy… if we do it right.’”
Fans and friends of Carr — who grew up in Hopkins, attended the University of Minnesota and began his journalism career with the Twin Cities Reader in the early ’80s — have to feel some confidence that Odenkirk will do right by the guy they remember. “Night of the Gun” is emphatically cable material, and once Odenkirk meets up with a few Carr cronies still prowling our local streets and hears their stories, the distinctive Carr patois, that artful, articulate flow of sublime literacy and back-alley vulgarity should do plenty to goose Ryan’s script and his performance.
As for when you’ll see it: expect to wait at least 18 months.