Stories that take a deep dive into the craft of journalism have become well-known, notably the infamous Watergate scandal explored in All the President’s Men and the more recent child molestation cases in Spotlight. But a hybrid sub-genre has emerged over the years that crosses journalism with memoir. Susannah Cahalan investigated her own life in Brain on Fire after she suffered from a mysterious illness that caused massive memory loss and erratic behavior. Jake Adelstein told his personal and dangerous story covering the mobster crime beat in Japan with Tokyo Vice (a personal favorite). Now, one of the most famous of these, David Carr’s The Night of the Gun, has been announced for a six-part miniseries adaptation from AMC.
Carr, who passed away last year, became known for his work for The New York Times, but his life was tainted by his years as a drug addict who frequented crack houses. The journalist used 60 video-taped interviews, medical records, legal documents, and his own reporting over the course of three years to examine and fact check his own tumultuous life. As announced today, Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk will portray Carr in the adaptation, with Shawn Ryan (The Shield) attached as the screenwriter.
Joel Stillerman, AMC and Sundance TV’s president of original programming and development, said in a statement:
David Carr’s work as a journalist was uncompromising, enlightening, and most of all, always driven by a fundamental quest for the truth. When he turned those skills and values around to focus on his own life as an addict, the result was a stunningly original, compelling and important piece of journalism the likes of which the world had never seen – a simultaneously heartbreaking, funny, and inspirational account that redefined the idea of telling a personal story. Shawn Ryan, Bob Odenkirk, and the incredible team behind this have embraced all the things that David would have loved as a storyteller, and crafted a vision for The Night of the Gun that we hope will be as timeless as David’s book.
Odenkirk has embraced comedy and dark humor with his roles in the Breaking Bad cinematic universe and W/ Bob and David, and going further back to his writing work for Saturday Night Live. This heavier subject matter will be an interesting turn for the man who brought comedic relief to one Walter White. But he’s up for the challenge. “I hope to do justice to David’s intellect and his scrappy nature,” he remarked in a statement. “It’s gonna be crazy… if we do it right.”
Here’s a look at the sysnopsis from Carr’s memoir, “The Night of the Gun” (via Amazon):
From David Carr (1956–2015), the “undeniably brilliant and dogged journalist” (Entertainment Weekly) and author of the instant New York Times bestseller that the Chicago Sun-Times called “a compelling tale of drug abuse, despair, and, finally, hope.”
Do we remember only the stories we can live with? The ones that make us look good in the rearview mirror? In The Night of the Gun, David Carr redefines memoir with the revelatory story of his years as an addict and chronicles his journey from crack-house regular to regular columnist for The New York Times. Built on sixty videotaped interviews, legal and medical records, and three years of reporting, The Night of the Gun is a ferocious tale that uses the tools of journalism to fact-check the past. Carr’s investigation of his own history reveals that his odyssey through addiction, recovery, cancer, and life as a single parent was far more harrowing—and, in the end, more miraculous—than he allowed himself to remember.
Fierce, gritty, and remarkable, The Night of the Gun is “an odyssey you’ll find hard to forget” (People).