Oscar winner stars in revamp of Depression-era story

Next year’s HBO miniseries offering won’t include include guns or soldiers, but it will go back to a rough time in our nation’s history.

Five-hour “Mildred Pierce,” a more faithful adaptation of the James M. Cain novel than the 1945 Joan Crawford vehicle, toplines Kate Winslet as a Los Angeles-based Depression-era mom struggling to earn her daughter’s love. Project will be directed and co-written by Oscar nominee Todd Haynes (“Far From Heaven”).

“Over the course of the last couple of years, we have shifted strategy a bit,” explains HBO Miniseries topper Kary Antholis, who first joined the network in 1992 and was named head of the division in 2008. “We generally focused on the big, sweeping Americana miniseries. Those epic events remain part of our portfolio, but we’ve begun to look at other opportunities, such as ‘Mildred Pierce.’ It’s something we might not of have done a few years back.

“It’s somewhat shorter, yet we’re still targeting pieces that will lure the best talent that the industry has to offer. We were sold on Todd’s notion of having at this moment in time one of the great actresses of our generation playing a woman trying to raise two kids in tough economic times. It’s so resonant today.”

Haynes was coaxed to work in television by his longtime producer, Christine Vachon, who had positive experiences with the pay cabler in the past.

“Their reputation was certainly a factor, but I had a great meeting with those guys,” Haynes explains. “They knew my work and had read the book overnight. They’re so conscientious about what they put out.”

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