Written by Jolly, Little Women is described as a hyper-stylized, gritty adaptation of the 1868 novel by Louisa May Alcott, in which disparate half-sisters Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy band together in order to survive the dystopic streets of Philadelphia and unravel a conspiracy that stretches far beyond anything they have ever imagined – all while trying not to kill each other in the process. Jolly and Weatherly executive produce. The project hails from Weatherly’s Solar Drive Productions, which is based at CBS TV Studios under an overall deal Weatherly inked with the studio last year that also includes his services on NCIS.
Here is how I assume this pitch meeting went, given the tenuous-at-best relationship between this proposed plan and its source material.
Exec: Writer, I am so excited to have you on board for this “Little Women” adaptation.
Writer: Sir yes sir and I’m so excited.
Exec: You know “Little Women”?
Writer: Do I! Cover to cover! Four sisters during the Civil War, growing up in New England! I have so many memories! The part where Amy burns Jo’s writing! The part where Jo sells her hair! The limes! I cried so much when Beth died! I still seethe with rage over the way Amy stole Laurie away from Jo! Do I know it? Yes! A thousand times yes! Love it! Tell me more about the adaptation!
Exec: So I was thinking: what if they’re not?
Writer: Not what?
Exec: Sisters. During the Civil War. Growing up, coming into their own as writers, fixated on limes, etc.
What if it’s set in DYSTOPIAN PHILADELPHIA?
Exec: You love it, right?
See, the way I figure, dystopia is IN.
Writer: It — it just seems like maybe that’s not “Little Women” at all.
Exec: Let me finish.
Writer: Oh, I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Exec: They’re named Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth.
Writer: . . . are you finished?
Exec: Yes. I think that covers it.
Writer: It just really seems like this is a totally different idea that you are just calling “Little Women.”
Exec: No but see they’re sisters
Exec: Well half-sisters.
It’s a dystopia, did I mention that?
They’re uncovering a conspiracy that goes farther than anything they could possibly have imagined.
Writer: No I hear you I just — you can’t just call that “Little Women” because their names are the same. I mean I can’t say I’m adapting “Anne of Green Gables” and then be like “so it’s in Detroit, in the year 2360, and two cyborgs named Marilla and Matthew take in a girl named Anne, and together they uncover a conspiracy that goes farther than anything they could have possibly imagined while fighting to stay alive –”
Exec: This is genius! Tell me more.
Writer: No um. Look. I can’t be like “so i’m adapting ‘Jane Eyre’ . . . there’s a girl named Jane and she meets a guy named Mr. Rochester, and they’re both wizards fighting a dark power that rises in the east and is threatening to draw all the rings of power unto itself, and there is another wizard named St. John who is lame.”
Exec: You are a fountain of great ideas.
Writer: No no I mean look, uh, “Gone with the Wind.” You can’t say “I’m adapting ‘Gone with the Wind’ . . . Everyone’s in Tallahassee. Scarlett, Rhett and Ashley, and they’re all siblings with a terrifying gift that can unleash vampire-zombies. And there is no spousal rape or slavery and no mention of Sherman’s March at all.” Like, that would be an idea, but it would not be “Gone with the Wind.”
Exec: I was with you up until the last part
Writer: You can’t just use the names of characters and say it’s an adaptation. Let me try this one last time. You can’t say, “I’m adapting ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Everyone is a zombie. One of the zombies is named Lizzie and she is also a crime-solving teen who falls in love with a werewolf named Fitzwilliam while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the foundations of the space colony where everyone lives under the iron fist of Mr. Bingley, an ageless robot.” That’s NOT “Pride and Prejudice.”
Exec: These are pure gold. Please keep going. I’m writing all these down and the CW is going to be set through 2019.