It’s now official after months of speculation. Netflix has officially announced production of a new 10 episode series featuring beloved characters from gay San Francisco writer, Armistead Maupin’s TALES OF THE CITY series of 9 novels centered on a circle of LGBTQ people and their straight friends/family.
Maupin himself has been discussing the behind the scenes negotiations for months as he toured the country promoting his recent memoir, Logical Family and a documentary about his life and novels, The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin including talking about the Netflix project at his last Seattle appearance in October of 2017.
The first three novels in the series, which were all originally serialized in the mid/late 1970s in the San Francisco Chronicle, were made into three separate television miniseries in the 1990s. The first series, a co-production between PBS and Britain’s Channel Four, was a huge success but also gathered numerous protests from religious conservatives that the tax supported PBS was “promoting” drug taking and gay sex. PBS had to reluctantly pull the plug on participating in the next two TV adaptations which were produced by the cable network Showtime and mostly produced in Canada.
This new series will be loosely based on Maupin’s final three books in the Tales’ Universe which picks up the story nearly 20 years after the last of the original 6 stories. 2007’s Michael Tolliver Lives finds the original surviving characters struggling in the 21st Century with the onset of late middle age. The final two novels, Mary Ann in Autumn (2010) and The Days of Anna Madrigal (2014) furthered their exploits and even featured the demise of a beloved character but while the new series will feature some of the new characters and possible plots from these final 3 books, they will also feature new material as well.
Last week’s announcement from Netflix confirmed that original stars Laura Linney (Mary Anne) and Olympia Dukakis (Mrs. Anna Madrigal) would return to star along with Barbara Garrick who played socialite/turned lesbian outlaw DeDe Halcyon Day. It was also announced that actress Ellen Page would be joining the cast in the role of Shawna, the adopted daughter of Mary Anne.
Since then, more poo has emerged including the casting of Canadian actor Paul Gross, who played the womanizing bachelor Brian in the original 1993 miniseries, who eventually marries then divorces Mary Anne. Gross was asked to reprise the role in the subsequent two series but was unavailable to continue the role due to starring in the American/Canadian television series Due South.
Still no word on casting for the gay male lead of the Tales’ series, Michael “Mouse” Tolliver. The original actor, Marcus D’amico, allegedly had “creative differences” with Maupin and was not asked to return for the subsequent series and he was replaced by Canadian actor Paul Hopkins.
The website SF Gate also revealed that the new show would be filmed in New York City
The reunion of old cast members is something to which Maupin is looking forward.“Oh, it’ll be a ball,” he said. The series will be shot in New York (the first was shot in Los Angeles, second in Montreal). “We’re building Barbary Lane, more expensive and more decrepit, at a studio in Manhattan,” he added. “Part of that is to accommodate the requirements of Olympia Dukakis, who doesn’t want to travel. And Laura Linney, who has a son she’s raising.”