When Justified ended on FX this past spring, there was a hole left in my TV watching schedule where some crisp, Elmore Leonard-oriented dialogue should have been. That rich tapestry of Kentucky characters may be gone, but a recent report indicates that the unlikely Quentin Tarantino may bring another Leonard project to the small screen. The prestigious director wants to turn Forty Lashes Less One into a miniseries for the small screen.
Apparently, Tarantino has been wanting to make Forty Lashes Less One for a while, and he still retains the rights to the book. In a recent interview with France’s Premiere, the director revealed he’s been thinking about making another western and in his mind a Forty Lashes Less One adaptation should be a TV mini rather than a lengthy movie. He even specifically mentions 4-6 episodes as a possibility.
Obviously, we’re rather early in the process here. Yes, Tarantino owns the rights, and yes Leonard’s penchant for oddball characters and catchy dialogue makes his novels ripe for a TV remake. However, pitches have to happen with networks or streaming services and a lot of steps have to be taken before a project like Forty Lashes Less One finds a home. Plus, then even more steps have to be taken before a project like this moves forward to series.
The good news? Forty Lashes Less One has a pretty cool premise. The title refers to the biblical concept that forty lashes would kill a man, so the maximum punishment you might give before death would be 39. The book itself is about a black man and a Chiricahua Apache man who have been sentenced to death but are given a second lease on life, that is, if they can track down five of Arizona’s most dangerous criminals.
Quentin Tarantino generally is known for his film work, but occasionally the director, writer and producer does delve into TV. He notably wrote and directed a couple of CSI episodes a decade ago and he recently nabbed a producing credit for #15SecondScare, not to mention a TV series based on From Dusk Till Dawn is currently on the air (although he's not personally involved). It would be great if Forty Lashes Less One would actually get off of the ground, as Tarantino has been bringing up the potential for this project for years. Right now, his latest release, The Hateful Eight, is gearing up to hit theaters on Christmas Day and will screen in 70mm in a number of theaters.
After that hullabaloo dies down, maybe there will be a little time to get the ball rolling with some Elmore Leonard. We’ll keep you updated either way.