The Sparrow — will the third time be the charm?

AMC has optioned The Sparrow and Children of God for a series. AMC is the cable channel responsible for Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Hell on Wheels. They’re not afraid of the dark, so maybe this time The Sparrow will fly.

There have been two previous attempts by two big studios make a movie out of The Sparrow for two big stars. Universal optioned it for Antonio Banderas, and then Warner Brothers optioned it for Brad Pitt. Screenplays were written but ultimately, both studios passed.

So I’m not letting myself get too excited. I still remember trying on a dress in 1996, thinking I’d need something to wear for the premier of the Banderas movie. Thank God, I didn’t actually buy it. Can’t remember what it looked like, but grunge, neon colors, hippie florals, and exercise leggings were big then. You may pause here to shudder.

I suspect that what I write is better suited to long-form television than to feature-length films. There is now a real possibility that in a couple of years Doc will be on HBO and The Sparrow will be on AMC. Very cool. Very cool, indeed… But nothing is real in Hollywood until the cinematographer is on the set eating a breakfast burrito. For now, we just sit back and wait to see what happens.

18 thoughts on “The Sparrow — will the third time be the charm?

  1. Be still my heart! This is the one single thing that could drive me back to cable TV. Fingers crossed.

  2. great news! or great possible news, mary. maybe i can send a shipment of breakfast burritos to hollywood to move things along? now about that dress…

  3. Mary,
    I know you’re trying not to let yourself get carried away, but *I’m* very excited about this — though who knows if and when this series will ever make it across the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. I hope it really happens this time (breakfast burritos and all).
    Esther

  4. Wonderful news, Mary! I’ve been waiting to hear something good about this. I still would have loved to see Johnny Depp play Santos, but at least it won’t be Brad Pitt! Keeping fingers crossed! And it’s great that Children of God is being considered, as well. People miss out on the whole point of the story if they don’t read the second book, imo. I vaguely remember something about the two were originally going to be one book – am I correct, or just dreamed it? Anyway, very very exciting news!

  5. Mary, I’ll bet you’re right this time. And I will be so glad to see them on TV rather than a short movie! Only problem is, we don’t get HBO. I think my parents upgraded, though. So I can go over there to watch it.

  6. Oh, I do hope so! I well recall our first interview, at the Pfister in Milwaukee, just after The Sparrow flew into print!

  7. Ms. Russell – it has been a couple of years since I read your wonderful books, The Sparrow and Children of God. I am an independent filmmaker and occasionally find myself chatting with colleagues about books that I’d love to bring to the screen. I was having such a conversation today and found myself mentioning these two works in this context. The conversation spurred me enough to do some basic research so imagine my surprise when I see that you just now awarded this option to AMC. Strange coincidence for me and wonderful news for your readers. If I can’t actually have the opportunity to shoot the film, I am at least delighted that I will get to see it. Congratulations!

  8. Oh, Mary, what wonderful news. I only recently came across The Sparrow and am now reading Children of God. What a find you are to my reading experience; and a local author to boot I am proud to say. George Clooney as Father Sandoz? Would the age work? Surely he would work better than Brad Pitt. Antonia Bandaras is simply too tall I would think. Thank you for sharing your talent with us. I’ve read many books and these two are my favorites. I would certainly pull my nose out of the written word to watch anything you have written brought to life. I’ve agreed with your reluctance thus far, and am confident your choice must be a good one for you to make this decision. Please continue to write. I will be reading everything!

  9. Just read The Sparrow and I absolutely love it and recommend it to everyone. I think a show is a perfect medium and I also think this AMC is fine; there’s not a ton of plot driven “R-rated” material such as a series like Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) to make it necessary for HBO or Showtime.
    However, my concern (as most people’s it seems) is casting Emilio. I’ve been running it over in my head all day and I can’t come up with anybody. It has to be somebody easy going and funny, not a face you want to punch, charismatic and unabashed. Maybe it should be someone who is an unknown.
    I definitely think that the PERFECT person to play Anne would be Meryl Streep. Even if you couldn’t find a good Sandoz she might be able to hold the show on her own. Also, Rupert Grint would be a great Jimmy.
    I hope this works out and I would be the biggest cheerleader if this ends up going through. Good luck!

  10. I just came across this news. Its brilliant. The Sparrow is an tremendously original and thought-provocative book, and since the beginning I have thought it would make an AMAZING TV show (not movie though, too much to fit in.)

    Its always interesting to hear what others picture in terms of actors for the possible show. Personally, I think someone tall, nerdy looking like Joel David Moore (from Avatar) is perfect for Jimmy, and an actor in the ilk of Tom Hiddleston (Loki from Thor) is perfect for Emelio. Small, kind eyes, (seemingly) questionable sanity…

    TV show or not, this is one of the best books I have ever read.

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