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While movie stars have been making TV shows for many years, it’s been True Detective and American Horror Story that have really opened up the floodgates in showing actors that TV can be a limited engagement just as a film can. And holy shit, are we in for a whopper. Oscar winning actresses Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are bringing a monster team-up to the limited series Big Little Lies, which will almost certainly find the most prestigious home possible in the coming days or weeks.
For another big name, Big Little Lies is being developed by David E. Kelley, the Emmy-hoarding producer behind such megapopular shows as Ally McBeal, The Practice, and L.A. Law. He’ll be writing the screenplay for the series, which doesn’t appear to have a set number of episodes just yet.
Big Little Lies, based on the New York Times bestselling novel from Liane Moriarty, was published in July. The dark drama follows three women, all mothers of kindergarteners, who find their seemingly divine lives thrown into chaos when someone dies at an elementary school fundraiser’s parents’ night-gone-wrong. Is it just an accident, or is the town harboring enough secrets that murder wouldn’t be out of place? Dum-dum-dummm.
Kidman’s Blossom Films and Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard both optioned the rights to Big Little Lies in August, after the novel had already become an acclaimed hit. There was obviously talk that both would star, but it’s still pretty significant that the deal is done now. I can’t wait to see whether they go with an A-lister for the third woman or if they shoot for an up-and-comer. One of the mom characters is a young woman, so that could open up the door for so many talented actresses to join the more accomplished thesps.
It’s obvious that David E. Kelley, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman’s names will go a long way in getting this project sold to the proper outlet. According to THR, the series is expected to possibly bypass broadcast networks altogether to hit up premium cable channels and streaming sites. I don’t think anyone will argue that CBS would make Big Little Lies a more exciting project than HBO or Netflix would, but then Emmy season is almost always more rewarding to the non-prestigious networks. Any way it goes, I’ll be watching this one.
Kelley will be executive producing alongside Kidman and Witherspoon, with Moriarty producing. Witherspoon is currently on a big Oscar run, with roles in Jean-Marc Vallée’s biographical drama Wild, Philippe Falardeau’s Sudanese refugee drama The Good Lie and Paul Thomas Anderson’s shaggy dog mystery Inherent Vice. Though her Grace Kelly biopic was critically thrown in the quicksand, Kidman has Werner Herzog’s biopic Queen of the Desert coming, which should help out her own awards buzz.