some of you may recall, when Aaron
Sorkin stepped down as
executive producer of NBC’s The
West Wing back in the spring of 2004, he announced that his next project
would be a feature film, The Farnsworth
Sorkin’s interest in the Farnsworth story reaches
back at least a decade. During the 1990s, Sorkin considered writing a
screenplay for Castle Rock Pictures; he was introduced to the material by the
company that owns film rights to Pem Farnsworth’s book, Distant
Vision. He even spent some research time with Pem at her home in Fort
Wayne, Indiana while working on that project. The Castle Rock project fell
through, but Sorkin’s interest in the story never lapsed. In 2002, during the
commercial break right after Pem was introduced to the audience at the Emmy Awards, Sorkin approached Pem
and said "we’re not done with this story yet…." Two years later, his film was
announced (though there was no participation discussed for Mrs. Farnsworth
or the estate….).
Sorkin’s film project has faltered, but his interest
in the story continues unabated. The Farnsworth Invention has now been
adapted as a stage
play which will be performed at the La Jolla Playhouse near San Diego as a
"page to stage workshop production" from February 20 to March 25, 2007.
This week, the cast for the play
was announced and
rehearsals have commenced. Jimmi Simpson will play Philo T.
Farnsworth; Stephen Lang will portray David
Sarnoff, and Alexandra Wilson will play Pem Farnsworth.
stage-to-screen process is familiar to Aaron Sorkin. One of his most notable
films, A Few Good Men (with
Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, and Demi Moore) began the same way, i.e. starting
out as a stage production in order to develop the material before converting it
into a feature film. There is no doubt that a similar evolution is contemplated
here, inasmuch as no less a personage than Stephen Spielberg has
signed on as an executive producer of the La Jolla Playhouse production —
Spielberg’s very first foray into stagecraft after an illustrious career as a
film and television producer and director. That can only bode well for the
future of The Farnsworth Invention.
Kent Farnsworth has been
following all this very closely for philotfarnsworth.com Visit his website
to see photos of the cast juxtaposed with their real-life counterparts, or to
purchase a copy of Pem’s book.
I am also going to be retooling my own
"farnovision" site in the days and weeks
ahead using a Typepad "blog" format so that it will be much easier to keep
pertinent information front and center as this saga continues to unfold. That
format has worked very well for my Townsend
Brown website, so I’m going to replicate that format for Farnovision as well
as my other websites.