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Raven (Vince Gilligan does Jonestown for HBO)

Not much has been revealed about the miniseries since it was announced last September, although it's been stated that Vince Gilligan had to step back from the Better Call Saul writers room last summer in order to focus on this, so it seems likely we'll at least get some casting announcements soon.

This will be based on Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People.  There are a number of books about Jonestown, but this one seems to be praised as definitive.  It was published in 1982, when the events were still relatively fresh.  I'm going to have to set aside the time to read it before the show premieres.

Incidentally, the death of Powers Boothe has made me want to see the Jim Jones miniseries he starred in back in 1980, but you'd have an easier time locating Jimmy Hoffa than a copy of that.

Anyway, HBO's making a Jonestown miniseries with Vince Gilligan and Michelle MacLaren at the helm.  Get excited.


Wait, it's NOT a gritty reboot of That's So Raven?

Interest = Zero


This sounds amazing, but the casting of Jim Jones is the key component. Ill wait and see

AI'll definitely be watching this with my Mother, if I can get her to watch it with me. I dare say that her running commentary will eclipse the actual miniseries. She worked in the missing person's department of the San Francisco District Attorney's office in 1978.

Though, I won't force her to relive this if she's not interested. She once told me that a co-worker of hers lost his entire family in Jonestown when his wife one night left him to go down to Jonestown with Jim Jones, taking his kids with her. The way she talks about it, his case was not an isolated one.

Someday I feel that there needs to be a tv show done that takes place from 1968 to 1978 in the District Attorney's office in San Fransicsco. So much happened, the Zodiac killer, Jim Jones, the assassination of George Moscone and Harvey Milk (my mother was in the same damn building that day), not to mention just the general everyday weirdness of San Francisco.

So, uh, I ended up reading Raven way faster than I thought I would.  Cripes, what a kick to the huevos.


Who are we fantasy casting as Jones?


I'm honestly at a loss.  My girlfriend proposed Joaquin Phoenix, but unless he's not nearly as gaunt now as he was in THE MASTER he'd need to eat some serious cheeseburgers.


If Dwayne Johnson would put on some fat, I think he could look it. Question is can he act it?



Gonna be impossible to top Powers Boothe, sorry.  His Jim Jones is pretty iconic.


The epilogue of the book made a point of criticizing the accuracy (I think with regard to the Jim Jones backstory) of the CBS mini-series, but I'm still really eager to see it.  From the few clips I've seen, the decision to film it in 16mm "docu-drama" style was a stroke of genius.  It gives it a raw, disturbing immediacy that gets under my skin even in thirty second samples.

This might be an IT situation where even if the original production in general has plenty of room for improvement, the centerpiece performance cannot be bested.


I can't stress this enough: if you're any kind of fan of Powers Boothe, you owe it to yourself to see that mini-series.  He was THAT GOOD in it, and you'll gain a new appreciation for the man's career.




I would say either Bardem:

Or Jeffrey Dean Morgan:


I could get behind Morgan giving it a shot.


Was pissed because my library doesn't carry it.  Then realized my wife is now the person in charge of doing all the ordering for the library.  Email sent.


Gilligan briefly discussed the project with Vice:


Can you tell me anything about the new Jim Jones project you're developing at HBO? I'm obsessed with anything related to Jone's Cult.

I can tell you I was just in San Francisco with Michelle McLaren, who is directing, to meet with Tim Reiterman who wrote Raven, the book we're adapting the show to. Tim is a fascinating guy. He was there with congressman Leo Ryan in Guyana and was the last person to interview Jim Jones. He told us about being on the airstrip and being shot at when all these wonderful people including congressman Ryan were murdered. In his book, he describes in great detail his wristwatch being shot off and it finally being returned to him. When I asked him what happened to that watch, he pulled up his cuff and showed it to me like a battle wound.

You don't have a whole room of writers on this Jim Jones project, though. Is it just you writing it?

That's the plan. The last thing I wrote on my own was the Breaking Bad pilot, and everything since has been with fellow writers. I've got to do six episodes on my own. I hope I remember how to write.

Did I read that right?  Only six episodes?

A[quote name="Judas Booth" url="/community/t/159405/raven-vince-gilligan-does-jonestown-for-hbo#post_4307287"]I can't stress this enough: if you're any kind of fan of Powers Boothe, you owe it to yourself to see that mini-series.  He was THAT GOOD in it, and you'll gain a new appreciation for the man's career.

Finally got around to watching it and yeah, Boothe is phenomenal. All fourteen pounds of Brad Dourif do good work as well. The James Earl Jones role is...huh.

Having read Raven recently, I went in expecting to be distracted by inaccuracies, but other than noticing how much of a challenge compressing the story posed for the film makers, and all the name changes, that didn't really happen, partially because the book contained more detail than I could possibly retain, and partially because the thing really sucks you in, aggressively horrible A/V quality notwithstanding (seriously, could someone restore this to at least nine lines of resolution?).

The Charles B. Pierce "docu-drama" style really works like gangbusters for the material. The climax in particular feels like a home movie from hell. Michelle MacLaren is gonna shoot the hell out of the new version, I have no doubt, but I don't see how you do a more effective version of that ending than what we get here. I think where Gilligan has the best chance of defeating this is in the first two acts.

Found this thread while looking for something else, but I burned through Jeff Guinn's Jonestown book this summer and it's absolutely recommended:

home taping is killing music
ANot much of an update, but:

Quote:These days, Gilligan’s longtime colleague Peter Gould is shepherding “Better Call Saul” as it its preps its fourth season. Gilligan is adapting “Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People,” a 1982 account by reporter Tim Reiterman of the events that led to the 1978 mass suicide of almost 1,000 people associated with would-be messiah Jim Jones and his People’s Temple cult in Guyana. Reiterman, then reporting for the San Francisco Examiner, accompanied Congressman Leo Ryan for a fact-finding mission. Reiterman sustained injuries from the gunfire that killed Ryan. Gilligan is working on a miniseries version for HBO.

“My writing for this is slow as mud,” he sighs. “It’s the most depressing thing, and I hope that taking this on wasn’t a horrible mistake.” The individual members of the group, he says, were mostly good people who wanted better lives and to make contributions to something greater than themselves. Instead, Gilligan says, “They got suckered by a sociopathic con man.”

That last line of his quote has to be a reference to the current occupier of the White House.


His quotes are pretty self-defeating.  If it was anybody else saying those things I'd be worried about the show even happening, but this is pretty much how Vince Gilligan has always talked about his work.

I'm not convinced this project is still a thing.  While doing press for Better Call Saul, Vince admitted that he's "slowed down" on Raven.  Scroll to 2:37.

This is the worst timeline.

::: continues to make felt goatees for everyone::j
"Wilford Brimley can't be bothered to accept praise. He doesn't act because he thinks people will enjoy his work. He acts because it's his goddamned job." --Will Harris, AV Club

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