Channel 4 has confirmed that it will air the Catch-22 TV series adaptation with George Clooney heading up the production as the executive producer and director of the classic Joseph Heller World War II satire. He’ll also be joining the cast as Scheisskopf, training unit commander for Yossarian and Clevinger, while the lead role has gone to Chris Abbott, who starred in Girls and It Comes At Night.
Clooney has increasingly worked behind the camera in recent years with writer, director and producer credits for The Ides Of March, The Monuments Men and Suburbicon on the big screen. However, the Catch-22 TV adaptation will be his first for a television mini-series, despite his early success on TV in Rosanne, ER and Friends.
A final date hasn’t been announced as of yet, but the adaptation is set to air in the UK in 2019. With the announcement just in, we’re expecting filming to take place during the summer and autumn, which should see the Catch-22 mini-series ready to air in the first half of 2019. It’s being produced for Hulu in the US, so it should arrive in the States a little earlier than on Channel 4.
For anyone that has read the genius Joseph Heller satire, you’ll already know that the series will centre on the experiences of Captain John Yossarian during his service in World War II. Stationed on the small island of Pianosa off the coast of Italy, the B-25 bombardier faces the threat of being shot down to oblivion on every Air Corps mission he’s assigned, so he’s convinced that everyone is out to kill him.
As a result, his general plan is to stay alive at any cost, which results in him feigning illness, concocting technical issues with the plane’s equipment and sabotaging proceedings to get out of going on bombing runs. He also toys with the idea for attempting to get a Section 8 discharge for insanity, but the catch-22 is that his superiors see his evasion of flying duties as a clear indicator that he must be sane.
The other catch is that he can’t hit the required number of missions to be sent home, because his superiors keep increasing the number needed to get out of battle. With no way out, and death stalking his every move, he’s left with no choice but to dodge any runs that are sent his way, much to the frustration of his superiors, Colonel Cathcart, General Peckem and Scheisskopf.
Christopher Abbot (A Most Violent Year) will be taking on the iconic central role of Yossarian alongside Clooney as Scheisskopf and Kyle Chandler as Colonel Cathcart. Hugh Laurie will also be joining the cast as the enigmatic and terrifying Major de Coverley. However, there’s a whole host of characters from the book that haven’t been announced in terms of casting with Nately and his whore, the Chaplain, Doc Daneeka, Milo, Snowden, Clevinger and Aarfy yet to be confirmed.
There are a lot of characters in the book, so this is set to be a massive production and we’re expecting more announcements from Channel 4 about the cast in the run up to the air date next year.
Paramount Television, Anonymous Content and Smokeshouse Pictures are behind the production for Hulu with Channel 4 picking up the transmission option for the UK. Luke Davies (Lion) and David Michod (Animal Kingdom) are co-writing and executive producing the series alongside Clooney, and the former ER man will also be directing the series with Grant Heslov (Argo) and Ellen Kuras (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
The Catch-22 TV series is shaping up to be an impressive production with some big names in the cast and behind the camera. With Joseph Heller’s classic satire to live up to, the pressure will be on Clooney et al, but it could all come down to the strength of Christopher Abbott in the lead role. Yossarian is a much-loved anti-hero, so there’s a lot resting on his shoulders.
If you’re not familiar with Abbott’s work, he essentially looks like a cross between Kit Harrington and Adam Buxton, so we’re not sure how that’s going to work out in such a well known story. However, this is still one of the most exciting productions on Channel 4’s future slate and we can’t wait to see more of it in the build up to the air date.