Seeing James Spader and Holly Hunter as co-presenters at the SAG Awards the other night gave me a warm feeling: How nice to see a mini-reunion, since these two probably haven’t worked together since co-starring as auto-accident fetishists in David Cronenberg’s Crash back in 1996. So when I read the news this morning that Starz is turning Crash into a TV series, my initial impulse was: How cool that they figured a way to turn Cronenberg’s weird and disturbing kink-fest into a premium cable series, and how bold of Starz to go that route, toward Showtime turf. Alas, I quickly realized that the Crash in question was the 2005 Best Picture Oscar-winner. Sigh.
At the risk of reviving the epic Crash-vs.-Brokeback Mountain debate that bitterly divided both critics and moviegoers across the country two years ago, I have to say this is a bad idea. I mean, I’m glad most of the filmmakers behind the movie (writer-director Paul Haggis, writer Bobby Moresco, producer-star Don Cheadle) are on board for the TV version, so it won’t be the usual hacky movie-to-TV-series adaptation, but how the heck is it going to work? Every week, a new vehicular mishap, a new racist tirade, and a new epiphany for some character who learns that all of us harbor impulses toward both compassion and xenophobia? To his credit, Cheadle (pictured, with Jennifer Esposito (left) and Kathleen York) says the show will be about more than just race relations, but then it’s not really Crash, is it? The concept simply isn’t that elastic.
The article notes that the only other Best Picture winner ever adapted into a series was In the Heat of the Night,another movie built around racial tension. Of course, when that 1967film became a series two decades later, most of the Civil RIghts-eraracism that was its chief theme was drained out of it, making it justanother police drama, albeit one set in a sleepy Southern town insteadof a big city. It’s hard to imagine that a Crash series, evenjust a couple years after the movie, would fare any differently or beable to retain anywhere near the film’s urgency, week after week.
What say you, PopWatchers? Think a Crash series can work? What other Oscar-anointed movies do you think would make good TV series?