Author and Screenwriter Michael Chabon and his wife Ayelet Waldman sold a pilot to HBO this past week that’s tentatively being called Hobgoblin. It’s being described as a drama featuring a group of con men and wait for it… magicians to do battle with Adolf Hitler during World War II. John Lesher and Adam Kassan are executive producers while Chabon and Waldmen co-write and executive produce.
Chabon is prominent fiction writer best known for his novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which received the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He followed that up with the mystery novel, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (currently being adapted for the big screen by the Coen Bros.), which also was lauded by critics and readers. Waldman is the author of the mystery novel series, The Mommy-Track Mysteries along with a handful of general interest novels including Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Daughter’s Keeper and Red Hook Road. This is the first time Chabon and Waldman have collaborated on the same project.
Sounds like this project is a bit inspired by that
cuckoo warlock in Sherman Oaks everyone is talking about. Seriously though, Chabon and Waldman were probably inspired by Jasper Maskelyne, a British stage magician who worked for the British military intelligence during WWII using deception, camouflage, illusions and other magic tricks for subterfuge and counterintelligence with 14 assistants called “The Magic Gang.”
At first glance this project seemed a bit too far fetched as another wacky way to beat up the Third Reich. Inglourious Basterds meets Gauntlet the video game. HBO has the freedom to take risks that other networks can’t afford to take, but the Hobgoblin description makes HBO look like they’ll green light just about anything. Upon further review and research, the fact that there was a real task force that did this type of work makes Hobgoblin a more interesting project, especially if Chabon and Waldman stay on for the duration of the show.
Chabon’s work is always good for metaphors about nostalgia, fatherhood, and growing up Jewish among other themes. His work is often inhabited by gay, bisexual, and Jewish characters and he’s never apologized for his love of genre entertainment. Waldman, a former federal public defender should help ground this wild concept in a believable world. Her work is deeply rooted in social welfare and social change, amongst other emotional and psychological explorations. On second thought, this is sounding more and more like a potential-hit HBO show. Stay tuned.