Atticus Finch is wired in
February 11, 2016 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of the 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird is coming to Broadway. Producer Scott Rudin told the New York Times that while no casting decisions have been made, “The Atticus we do is going to be the Atticus in 'To Kill a Mockingbird.'"

Sorkin has had mixed success in theater. Before 1992’s “A Few Good Men” made him a Hollywood player, the project began its life as a play in 1989, starring Tom Hulce. The show ran for nearly 500 performances and closed in January 1991.

Sorkin also wrote “The Farnsworth Invention,” based on the life of Philo Farnsworth, inventor of the television. The production debuted in December 2007 and closed just 104 shows later.
posted by not_the_water (38 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Did you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it?
You're Goddamn Right I Did!
posted by zachlipton at 9:46 AM on February 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


Jon Hamm please.

Also, my spouse and I loved Farnsworth. It didn't do very well, but you can at least somewhat attribute that to the Broadway stagehand strike that delayed their opening by three weeks and interrupted their preview period.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:47 AM on February 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


I was going to make a Zombie Gregory Peck joke (they left it RIGHT THERE come on) but I got distracted by the excellent suggestion of Jon Hamm as Atticus.
posted by angeline at 9:52 AM on February 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


From MeFi's own Linda Holmes, a Sorkin parody that was so good I had to check and make sure it wasn't from something else he'd actually written:

"You're saying there's a recluse."
"Yes."
"Named Boo."
"Yes."
"Boo Radley."
"Yes."
"Who is he?"
"He's a recluse."
"If there's a recluse named Boo Radley, I've never heard of him. Why haven't I ever heard of him?"
"Because that's what 'recluse' means."

posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:52 AM on February 11, 2016 [33 favorites]


Scout, let's walk & talk.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:01 AM on February 11, 2016 [10 favorites]


I am excited to see the treadmill technology that allows people to walk for two hours on a single stage.
posted by Etrigan at 10:03 AM on February 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


That's just Les Mis.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:04 AM on February 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


Jon Hamm sounds great but you know it'll end up being Josh Malina.
posted by cmfletcher at 10:04 AM on February 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


I am excited to see the treadmill technology that allows people to walk for two hours on a single stage.

They are totally borrowing the Les Mis/Hamilton rotating stage, right.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:08 AM on February 11, 2016


Broadway seems just the place to erase the complexity and difficulty Watchman introduced. We like our characters simple.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:10 AM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


They are totally borrowing the Les Mis/Hamilton rotating stage, right.

With Hamilton's double turntable, the men can stand stationary in the center while explaining things to the sexually frustrated women who rotate around them.
posted by zachlipton at 10:15 AM on February 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


Looking forward to a dance number featuring them in those costumes they're in near the end of the book. If I remember correctly, Scout was a giant turkey leg and Dill was a box of stuffing.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 10:28 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


No Jon Hamm please. The Atticus I knew didn't smirk.
posted by headnsouth at 10:30 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Scout was a giant ham. Which is all the more reason John Hamm should play Atticus.
posted by holborne at 10:35 AM on February 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Scout, let's walk & talk."

; _ ; came to make same joke
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 AM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Who are you and why have I never heard of you?"

"I'm a recluse, and I'm a recluse"
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:47 AM on February 11, 2016 [8 favorites]


I can't bear musical theatre but by god if there is a kid in an enormous ham costume I will be there on opening night.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:50 AM on February 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


I try never to say please just no but please just no.
posted by allthinky at 11:03 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't bear musical theatre but by god if there is a kid in an enormous ham costume I will be there on opening night.

Your Obedient Servant, A Dot Giant Ham.
posted by The Bellman at 11:12 AM on February 11, 2016 [12 favorites]


On a serious note:

“The Atticus we do is going to be the Atticus in 'To Kill a Mockingbird.'"

On the one hand, I loved, loved, loved the Atticus in To Kill A Mockingboard, both book and movie. Gary Cooper is dreaaaaaaaaaaaaamy, and I read my first paperback copy to pieces.

On the other hand, watching white people* flip the fuck out about the idea that maybe Atticus Finch 20 years later isn't perfect -- that has been pretty frustratinng.

I mean, nobody likes to see their childhood heroes unfrocked. There are also a lot of reasons why Go Set A Watchman is morally sketchy, not least because of the troubling allegations of elder abuse. And like, I haven't read Go Set A Watchman, and I also understand that in general, it isn't the best-written book.

Nevertheless, it makes me deeply frustrated to see so many white people just reject out of hand even the possibility that a white dude can be relatively progressive on racial issues in his relative youth, but be left behind by the times and/or become cranky and not-great and racist.

Because that happens, particularly with race in this country. Think of all the white Americans in the 1950's who supported desgregation in the 1950's and the VRA, but then freaked the fuck out about the Black Panthers. Think of all the white Americans who believe that of course black people should be allowed to vote and all, how generous, but well, asking for ____________ is just too far or too fast. On a personal level, I've had a lot of fights with my sweet, generous, donates-thousands-to-Planned-Parenthood white mother-in-law who took part in civil rights protests back in the 60's -- and now repeats horrifying Fox talking points about how Michael Brown was a thief, how black kids need to learn to talk "properly," and how the (almost always black, in our area) observant Muslim women who wear the hijab or other head coverings are "backwards."

Frankly, I think that when you look at it closely, the outrage about Atticus Finch is close cousin to the WELL, I LIKE THIS PERSON SO HE CAN'T BE RACIST line of reasoning that happens a lot. And it bugs me every time I run into it.




* In my personal experience, it's uniformly white people who flip out. I mean, I know this is a generalization, but there are few POC, I think, who haven't personally encountered "white person seems great, but then you learn a bit more about them, and well, at least it was only a microaggression???"
posted by joyceanmachine at 11:43 AM on February 11, 2016 [11 favorites]


Gary Cooper Gregory Peck is dreaaaaaaaaaaaaamy, and I read my first paperback copy to pieces.

ftfy. Apologies for being pendantic; I know that's probably what you meant to type.

Not that Gary Cooper wasn't also dreamy, but after seeing that movie as a kid I wanted Gregory Peck to be my dad. O_O
posted by offalark at 11:57 AM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


Julianne Moore
posted by j_curiouser at 12:09 PM on February 11, 2016


Philo Farnsworth, inventor of the television

All these years later and I'm still just getting Futurama jokes!
posted by meandthebean at 12:24 PM on February 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


Nevertheless, it makes me deeply frustrated to see so many white people just reject out of hand even the possibility that a white dude can be relatively progressive on racial issues in his relative youth, but be left behind by the times and/or become cranky and not-great and racist.

Oh good grief. I know full well that real-world white dudes grow cranky and not-great and racist all the damn time. If it's all the same to you I'd like the standard-bearer for kindness, greatness, and non-racism from the fiction that I read during my formative years to remain kind and great and not racist in my imagination. The reality is dark enough, thank you.

I can't imagine giving a damn about strangers' reactions to decades-later changes to the points of view of idealized fictional characters from their childhoods.
posted by headnsouth at 12:46 PM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


"...a white dude can be relatively progressive on racial issues in his relative youth, but be left behind by the times and/or become cranky and not-great and racist."

FWIW, and from my reading of the Watchman, I didn't see this particular change. Rather, I saw Atticus to be a fuller character than he was in Mockingbird, a man who fought against injustice towards blacks, but didn't necessarily believe that they were his equal, and far from it. Atticus didn't want to see blacks abused, and fought for justice accordingly. In Mockingbird, the simple conclusion was that that meant Atticus was against racism, but Watchman showed that being intolerant of abuse can be completely consistent with a racist viewpoint, and Atticus becomes like a great many other men of his generation. But -- that was just my reading of it.

As for Watchman not being a good book in and of itself, I disagree. I think it's the basis of a very good book, but clearly in need of a good editing -- which it didn't get at that time. It's certainly a more complex and nuanced book than Mockingbird, particularly in the way of parent-child and teacher-student relationship and their eventual reversals. Then again, the respective universes of the two books aren't consistent with each other, which poses comparison problems.

Glad I read it, if that matters any. Enh.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:03 PM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm still not clear to me that the Atticus Finch in Go Set a Watchman is supposed to be the "same" Atticus Finch as in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Ideas change over time. I've written stories in which characters have the same name, but have changed because my ideas have changed. Like, in one version of a story I wrote I have a character who is driven by vengeance; later, while working on a related story, set earlier, I thought political ambition would be more interesting. It might be interesting to consider these to be different lenses on the "same" character, but the truth is that the character changed to suit the kind of story I wanted to tell. The character's not a person, it's a very malleable tool.

Like, regardless of the what you think about the new Atticus, it's not necessary to view his existence as an attack or commentary on the old Atticus. (Or vice versa, since Go Set a Watchman is actually the older work.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:07 PM on February 11, 2016


Rather, I saw Atticus to be a fuller character than he was in Mockingbird, a man who fought against injustice towards blacks, but didn't necessarily believe that they were his equal, and far from it.

Yeah, I'll buy that, and it makes the book sound much, much more interesting. My comment was mostly about people who hear that Atticus is more racist in the new book, and then respond pretty much as headnsouth does.
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:11 PM on February 11, 2016


I can't bear musical theatre but by god if there is a kid in an enormous ham costume I will be there on opening night.

My sister named her ridiculously little and ridiculously cute dog Scout, and though she's prone to dress her in costumes , she's never dressed her in a ham costume and every time I remember this, I am outraged.

It's like growing up with two older gay brothers meant NOTHING to her.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:25 PM on February 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


Idris Elba as Atticus.

No nonsense dude, who looks equally good in a suit and holding a rifle to shoot a crazy dog.

Plus I think Harper Lee would think it a nice FU to her hometown.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:35 PM on February 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


Scout should definitely wear a giant unwieldy Jon Hamm costume in the stage production.
posted by Drastic at 2:35 PM on February 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


Word on the street is that Atticus is going to be played by Keanu Reeves but you didn't hear it from me.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:45 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Jon Ham is great but I think Josh Brolin would be more convincing as someone who knows how to handle a rifle.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:52 PM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


hal_c_on: "Idris Elba as Atticus."

I'm pretty down with this. An all black cast of TKAM would be pretty phenomenal, I think.
posted by boo_radley at 3:10 PM on February 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm still not clear to me that the Atticus Finch in Go Set a Watchman is supposed to be the "same" Atticus Finch as in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Well yeah. Racist Atticus has only come out due to machinations that are somewhere between benign to evil. The works may stand up individually, but circumstances being what they are, inferring any amount of intention in the discontinuity of Atticus' characterization between the two novels seems to be a leap beyond what is called for. There is no good reason to think that these portrayals were ever meant to be reconciled.
posted by anazgnos at 3:21 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not that Gary Cooper wasn't also dreamy, but after seeing that movie as a kid I wanted Gregory Peck to be my dad.

Same here. Then I saw him as Ahab in Moby Dick and I realized he already was my dad.
posted by notyou at 3:22 PM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


Word on the street is that Atticus is going to be played by Keanu Reeves but you didn't hear it from me.

I think Keanu will look very nice in glasses.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:54 PM on February 11, 2016


I can't bear musical theatre but by god if there is a kid in an enormous ham costume I will be there on opening night.

It's not going to be a musical.
posted by crossoverman at 6:24 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I like nonmusical theatre even less.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:16 AM on February 12, 2016


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