Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Harlan Ellison's "Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman" coming to the screen

Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman
Illustration by Jim Steranko

Harlan Ellison's Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman is at long last being made into a film. The sci-fi icon has optioned his 1965 Hugo and Nebula award winning story to J. Michael Straczynski, the writer behind World War Z, Thor, Babylon 5 and Sense8(which Straczynksi and the Wachowski siblings are bringing to Netflix). Deadline reports that Ellison only agreed to option the award winning short story - which he wrote in a single afternoon - after Straczynski delivered a fully finished script for Ellison's approval.

Here's how the trade mag explains it -
"The story is about Everett C. Marm, an ordinary man who disguises himself as the anarchical Harlequin and engages in whimsical rebellion against the Ticktockman. The trouble is that if he is found out, the government could stop his heart at long distance if they learn who he is. Straczynski sees the cautionary tale as especially relevant in a post-Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street environment, or even Edward Snowden, in a story of a man who goes against the system and must pay the price for his actions.
Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman
Illustration by Don Ivan Punchatz/1978

Straczynski, Ellison-approved script in hand is said to be approaching Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro to direct. Check out Deadline's inside line on what took Ellison so long:  
"Why would Ellison wait so long? He has had a tough time in Hollywood, and it sounds like a lot of it is because of his uncompromising manner. He got a job writing at Disney but lasted less than a day, after Roy O. Disney overheard him musing about his desire to write a porno film featuring Disney characters. Later, he feuded with Gene Roddenberry over rewrites to the Star Trek episode he scripted, and once, when asked by Warner Bros after the success of Star Wars to adapt Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, he was dropped after telling then-studio head Robert Shapiro that he had the intellectual capacity of an artichoke. Finally, he ended up suing Orion and Hemdale, alleging that The Terminator took liberties with his “Soldier” and “Demon With A Glass Hand” episodes of The Outer Limits. They settled out of court, and Ellison got acknowledgment on The Terminator, over (James) Cameron’s objections.
A whimsical rebellion? The story takes place in a world where being late is a crime. For someone like me that's the furthest thing from whimsy imaginable. 

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