"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Thursday, June 06, 2019

New NBC TV Series Will Feature Dan Brown's 'The Lost Symbol' At Last



Before Dan Brown's Masonic thriller The Lost Symbol was released in 2009, public and mercenary interest in the unpublished novel and all things Freemasonry were as close to a fever pitch as anything could get in the shrinking publishing and pop culture world. Brown himself had let the cat out of the bag five years ahead of schedule by letting it be known he was going to write about the Freemasons in Washington, D.C. as the sequel to the sixth most popular book in the English language - The Da Vinci Code. After  years worth of delays on Brown's part, the marketplace and the airwaves were flooded with Masonic related books, TV shows, and even National Treasure, all trying to cash in on Dan Brown mania. 


And Freemasonry itself was a big beneficiary of all of the renewed attention. 


If you heard me speak starting about a dozen years ago, you might recall that I told Masonic audiences everywhere that our membership problems would soon be over. The Lost Symbol and its inevitable big bloated Robert Langdon movie with Tom Hanks were going to be so popular that floods of eager petitioners would be pounding on the doors and taking battering rams to our West Gates. Guys would be handing over their pants in such huge numbers we'd all have to build new closets. Lines for new degree conferrals were going to be longer than trying to get into a Miley Cyrus concert. Heck, grand lodges were going to have to rent NFL domed football stadiums for all of those one-day classes packed with Lost Symbol devotees who suddenly decided that Freemasonry was for them. 

Yeah, well, didn't happen.

After The Lost Symbol's release, my own book, Deciphering The Lost Symbol, was designed as a Masonic guidebook to help Masons make sense of what was true or imaginary regarding the fraternity in Brown's fanciful chase across Washington and its Masonic landmarks. But while the new novel was decent enough, it didn't capture the public imagination the way Brown's two prior ones had - The Da Vinci Code, and Angels & Demons

As much as we like to think we're an important audience, Masons who buy books and read them are a minuscule sparrow fart in the great pop culture demographic these days. But even before the novel's release, it was pre-determined that a movie would soon be made of it. 

While Freemasons certainly salivated over the potential of two hours of big screen Masonic good guys and the House of the Temple onscreen for the final, inevitable big showdown, the reading public had the same sort of reaction to the book itself that Star Trek fans had for the big budget flopbuster Star Trek: The Motion Picture back in 1979. "Um, yeah, it's really good," was the sort of tepid response. And movie producers were pretty underwhelmed.

Worse, after four different screenplay writers and even Brown himself attempted to make a filmable script out of it (since 20% of the novel takes place in pitch darkness), Ron Howard's production team decided to leapfrog The Lost Symbol and went for Brown's NEXT novel, Inferno. The Lost Symbol became, well, lost.

Well, it's back.

The Deadline website is reporting that NBC has just given a production commitment to Langdon, a TV drama based on Dan Brown’s Masonic novel The Lost Symbol, from Daniel Cerone (Motive, Constantine), Imagine Television Studios (the TV division of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment), CBS TV Studios, and Universal Television. So, we might at least start checking the rental rates on high school stadiums, just in case...

From the story:

Written and executive produced by Cerone, Langdon follows the early adventures of famed Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who finds himself pulled into a series of deadly puzzles when his mentor is kidnapped. The CIA forces him onto a task force where he uncovers a chilling conspiracy.
Brown executive produces with Imagine TV Studios’ Grazer, Howard, Francie Calfo, Samie Falvey and Anna Culp. Imagine TV Studios, CBS TV Studios and Universal TV co-produce.
The Last Symbol is the third Brown novel featuring the character of Langdon, following Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, and is set after the events of The Da Vinci Code.

The Langdon TV series is a natural extension to the Robert Langdon universe Imagine Entertainment had built on the feature side at Columbia Pictures with three movies produced by the company and directed by principal Ron Howard, which starred Tom Hanks as Langdon: The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons and Inferno, based on the fourth book in the series. The company also had developed a movie adaptation of The Lost Symbol at Sony as a follow-up to Angels & Demons before the studio went with Inferno instead.
[snip]

The Langdon TV series is a natural extension to the Robert Langdon universe Imagine Entertainment had built on the feature side at Columbia Pictures with three movies produced by the company and directed by principal Ron Howard, which starred Tom Hanks as Langdon: The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons and Inferno, based on the fourth book in the series. The company also had developed a movie adaptation of The Lost Symbol at Sony as a follow-up to Angels & Demons before the studio went with Inferno instead.
Just like the Angels & Demons movie took place after the events in The Da Vinci Code, opposite to the chronological order in the books, Langdon has been conceived as a prequel, focusing on a younger Robert Langdon to change the timeline in the novels. Imagine TV set the project at CBS TV Studios through the companies’ first-look deal. The series had been in development at the studio at least since last September.

No time frame given. Looks like Tom Hanks is out, as is his odd haircut, and it'll be a younger Langdon symbologist on the trail. And plenty of these type of early announcements go nowhere - this has actually been underway for nine months. But you never know. 


My guess is this was suddenly resurrected as a TV project based on high ratings from Lodge 49 and the Sky TV UGLE five parter that Hulu aired last Fall.

NBC Exec: "These Freemason guys are hot again. Call somebody. Get somebody. And get me somebody while I'm waiting."


You might want to start renovating that closet.

2 comments:

  1. I'm simultaneously curious, worried, and preemptively offended.

    I also have to wonder about the wisdom of making a Dan Brown/Robert Langdon film without Tom Hanks, but I know that Hanks is expensive and not getting any younger. But I have to wonder if the very act of changing the star might also lead them to change some other aspects of the story, such as making Freemasonry less benign than the book depicts it as. Time will tell.

    --Robert Haines
    San Francisco

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wait. You're saying you're worried about the ability of television to trivialize the important or noteworthy, mangle the narrative, cheapen a philosophy, and purée into pablum even the best of ideas?

      I'd show you my astonished look, but yours is probably similar.

      Delete

ATTENTION!
SIGN YOUR NAME OR OTHERWISE IDENTIFY YOURSELF IN YOUR COMMENT POSTS IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A GOOGLE ACCOUNT.
Comments will not appear immediately, so be patient. I am forced to laboriously screen every post because I am constantly bombarded with spam. Anonymous postings on Masonic topics have the same status as cowans and eavesdroppers as far as I am concerned. If you post with an unknown or anonymous account, do not expect to see your comment appear.