Catch-22 Star George Clooney Shares the Catalyst for His Long-Awaited Return to Television in Emmy Magazine
More than 58 years after the publication of Joseph Heller's classic anti-war novel Catch-22, some of the biggest players in Hollywood are bringing the acclaimed story to a new audience. In the May 10 issue of the award-winning emmy magazine, series executive producer, director and star George Clooney, along with co-stars Kyle Chandler and Christopher Abbott, share the challenges of bringing one of the 20th century's most renowned literary works to life.
While many believed that turning the free-form narrative of Catch-22 into a linear, limited series couldn't be done, Clooney, along with fellow executive producers Grant Heslov, Richard Brown and the late Steve Golin of Anonymous Content, and series writers, Luke Davies and David Michôd, were up for the challenge. They believed the timeliness of the source material would resonate with a 21st century audience. The six-hour limited series premieres on Hulu May 17.
In "A Moral Mission," the producers and writers share that they were struck by the many ways Catch-22 parallels the current political climate. "There's an incredible dovetailing between the madness of Heller's world that David and I tried to translate to the TV screen, and the madness of the world we wake up to every morning," Davies says.
Catch-22 marks the return to series television for Clooney, last seen two decades ago on the NBC drama ER. As the lines between film and episodic TV continue to blur, Clooney tells emmy his priority is finding good projects. "I think all of us don't give a damn what the medium is that we work in; we just want to tell good stories," he says. In addition to his role as Colonel Scheisskopf, Clooney directed two episodes of the series.
When Clooney signed on to the project, he was originally cast as Colonel Cathcart but felt he could not do the part justice with the demands of producing and directing. Instead the role was offered to Emmy-winning actor Kyle Chandler, who was initially skeptical of reprising the character played by Martin Balsam in the 1970 film adaptation directed by Mike Nichols. "Doing a remake of a very famous piece of material makes me wary," says Chandler. "But as soon as I started reading the scripts, I realized it was so well put together. I love that time period; I love the history of World War II." Clooney knew Chandler would put his stamp on the character. "The minute he started, we knew everything was solved," notes Clooney.
The series has brought together a host of talented actors. Rising star Christopher Abbott plays U.S. Air Force bombardier John Yossarian. Producer Richard Brown tells emmy, "Christopher is the Yossarian I always imagined when I read the book." The entire cast, including Pico Alexander as Clevinger, Kevin J. O'Connor as Lieutenant Colonel Korn, Daniel David Stewart as black marketeer Milo Minderbinder and Tessa Ferrer as Nurse Duckett, bonded on the set of the series, which was shot at an abandoned airport in the coastal Sardinian town of Olbia, where an authentic World War II air base was reconstructed for the production.
Additional feature highlights from the new issue include:
- A&E's The Clinton Affair explores the near impeachment of president Bill Clinton through candid interviews, including a first-person account from then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky. In "Secrets and Lies," emmy talks with the executive producers about the captivating stories, fascinating characters and how the six-part documentary series has dovetailed with the #MeToo movement.
- Emmy talks to the team behind Starz's critically acclaimed series Vida, which explores issues of class, gender, race and family through the experiences of a Mexican-American family in L.A.'s Boyle Heights. Read about the genesis of the show and the groundbreaking Latinx-only writers' room in "In the Heights."
- In "Power to the People," emmy speaks with Craig Mazin, executive producer and writer of Chernobyl. The worst nuclear disaster in history is the subject of the compelling five-part limited series that premiered May 6 on HBO.
Emmy, the official publication of the Television Academy, goes behind the scenes of the industry for a unique insider's view. It showcases the scope of television and profiles the people who make TV happen, from the stars of top shows to the pros behind the cameras, covering programming trends and advances in technology. Honored consistently for excellence, emmy is a six-time Maggie Award winner as Best Trade Publication in Communications or the Arts and has collected 52 Maggies from the Western Publishing Association. Emmy is available on selected newsstands and at TelevisionAcademy.com for single print and digital copies as well as subscriptions.
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