'John Adams' team to adapt James Ellroy books

HBO and the creative team behind “John Adams” will mine the James Ellroy books “American Tabloid: A Novel” and “The Cold Six Thousand” for their next collaboration.

The pay web and Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman have engaged scribe Kirk Ellis to craft a series that will start with “American Tabloid.” The project will present a dark alternative history of the 1960s, following three men and their shifting alliances with the CIA, the Mafia and the Kennedys. The books feature such ’60s fixtures as J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, Jimmy Hoffa, the Kennedy clan and Frank Sinatra.

HBO has held the option on the Ellroy books for years, and the network and Playtone haven’t decided yet whether to adapt them into a regular series or a mini. That decision will be made as Ellis gets a handle on the material in a development process that will begin with a pilot script. Hanks, Goetzman and Ellis will serve as exec producers.

Ellis was co-exec producer of “John Adams” and adapted all seven segments drawn from the David McCullough book. The miniseries, which received 23 Emmy nominations, picked up eight trophies at the Creative Arts Awards on Saturday and needs four more at the Primetime Emmy ceremony Sunday to break the miniseries record held by “Eleanor and Franklin” and “Angels in America.”

Playtone, which brings “Big Love” back for its third season in January, is currently in post-production on the 10-hour, $200 million miniseries “The Pacific,” which Hanks and Goetzman exec produced with Steven Spielberg.

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