Holy crap, I'm excited! This American Life's Ira Glass is teaming up with Veronica Mars/Party Down creator Rob Thomas and Owen Wilson to create a drama series for HBO based on a TAL segment titled "Midlife Cowboy."
"Midlife Cowboy" was featured on an episode of This American Life called "Save the Day" that originally aired March 12, 2010. The segment tells the true story of James Spring, who was 39 and suffering from malaise of the spirit due to the "utterly unremarkable" nature of his life. As his 40th birthday neared, Spring heard about two children who had been kidnapped by murderers and taken to Mexico, and Spring decided - frankly on a whim - to travel to Mexico of his own resources and rescue the children. Spring, at the time a copywriter and family man, was once a drug smuggler, and his experience with crime life in Mexico aided him on his quest. The resulting media coverage led to Spring's new career as a missing persons investigator.
The story's absolutely fascinating and it blew my mind when I first heard it. I couldn't believe it was true. I kept dwelling on it for days afterward, and I remember thinking what a brilliant movie it would make. But I love this idea even more: the HBO series will offer a fictionalized account of Spring's story and presumably follow his future cases as a P.I. The series is tentatively titled (and boy, do I hope they change it) Thrillsville.
I'm all aflutter with this news! First, Rob Thomas is writing the script. This means, to my boundless delight, that the creator of Veronica Mars is writing a new series about a private investigator! Thomas has proven he can write any sort of television very well, but we already know that he can write this specific television especially well. As fans clamor for a Veronica Mars or Party Down movie - and don't get me wrong, I'd watch the hell out of either - I am most excited about a brand new series written by Thomas. He's executive producing with Dan Etheridge, who also worked on Veronica Mars and Party Down. These two men make great TV together, trust. And with the muscle of HBO (and, to a lesser extent, Wilson) behind it, this might be a Thomas/Etheridge joint that will make it past three seasons!
Second, Ira Glass is executive producing as well. I think Glass is a brilliant writer and story producer. He always finds the most economical and connective way to tell a story. He recently produced Sleepwalk With Me (reviewed here), and he wrote the screenplay, which was structured in a way I found original and moving. I had some problems with the film, but none of them were due to the script. I am so eager to see these two men work together to develop a story that is already riveting. The idea's golden and the talent behind it is extraordinarily deft - and, of course, it's airing on HBO, the top of the cable food chain. I haven't been this excited about a project in a very long time. I just hope Wilson doesn't star. He's not going to star, is he?
You can hear the episode here. Listen to it! It's thrilling.