Lorimar runs with ‘Rabbit’

Lorimar TV will produce a six-hour miniseries for NBC based on John Updike’s Pulitzer Prize-winning quartet of “Rabbit” novels, the parties confirmed.

The miniseries, being scripted by Judith Paige Mitchell, will be based on Updike’s novels tracing the life of star high school athlete and American Everyman Harry Angstrom, which began with “Rabbit, Run” in 1960 and culminated with “Rabbit at Rest” two years ago.

(The intervening books, published in 1971 and ’81, were “Rabbit Redux” and “Rabbit Is Rich.”)

Mitchell, Andrea Baynes and Larry Turman will serve as exec producers, with Glenn Jordan–who teamed with Turman on the feature “Mass Appeal”–as producer-director. The projectwill be produced by Turman-Foster-Green Entertainment in association with Lorimar. According to Updike’s agent, Ken Sherman, Warner Bros. has controlled sequel rights to the original book for more than two decades, since releasing the feature “Rabbit, Run” starring James Caan in 1970. Lorimar, like Warner Bros., is a division of Time-Warner Inc.

The production also represents a recent willingness to expand beyond the two-part, four-hour length that had become the accepted norm in longform programming. CBS, for example, is working on two six-hour miniseries, “Return to Lonesome Dove” and “Queen,” as well as eight-hour “Gone With the Wind” sequel “Scarlett.” Both ABC and CBS will air five-hour multi-parters (respectively, “The Jacksons: An American Dream” and “Sinatra”) next month during the November sweeps.

Updike won his two Pulitzers for the first and final “Rabbit” novels. He also wrote “The Witches of Eastwick,” which was adapted into a 1987 Warner Bros. feature and, more recently, a failed NBC series pilot.

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