After Hemingway and Gellhorn made a critical splash on HBO, earning a slew of Primetime Emmy nominations, the subscription cable network now has its sights set on fleshing out other literary relationships. Unfortunately, if you were hoping for another sentimental romance, no such luck: this time the network plans to show the controversial relationship between prisoner Jack Abbott and The Village Voice founder Norman Mailer.

In 1980, Mailer published The Executioner's Song, a book that is widely considered to be a masterpiece (it won a Pulitzer) and which makes some of the author’s other works, like The Naked and the Dead, seem like beach reads. The work was written with the help of Abbott, but the friendship between the two men was famously complicated. Mailer initially corresponded with Abbott to help him to work toward parole and reform as a criminal -- the man later even wrote his own book on the subject, In the Belly of the Beast -- however, the relationship became convoluted when Abbott returned to violence and murder within the prison walls. Now, all of these facets will be explored in an upcoming HBO films production.

According to THR, the project will be penned by Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps writer Stephen Schiff. The currently untitled project will be heading to HBO via Norman Mailer Center founder Tina Brown, along with Mailer’s son, Michael Mailer, and Lydia Pilcher. The addition of Mailer’s son was instrumental in getting the project access to exclusive letters and other insights into the relationship between the two men. If all goes well for HBO, maybe we will finally learn a little bit about what it really means to be in the belly of the beast.

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