Francesco Piccolo will collaborate with the pseudonymous novelist to turn her books into an Italian TV drama – but not in person
For Francesco Piccolo, being given the job of transforming one of the most exciting works of contemporary literature into a television drama is the professional challenge of a lifetime.
But the deal to dramatise the four-book series by the pseudonymous writer known as Elena Ferrante comes with a peculiar catch. To protect the closely guarded secret of Ferrante’s true identity, the award-winning novelist and screenwriter will have to collaborate with Ferrante, who retains some creative control over the project, entirely by email.
“She will not literally write the script but she will read – I believe – everything. Every single draft, every single scene. She will go through it and by email she will express her thoughts, suggestions, advice,” said Maurizio Dell’Orso, who handles television rights for Ferrante’s publisher, Edizioni E/O. “She is not the kind of person who says: ‘I wrote it, now you go do the rest.’”
Asked whether Ferrante – whose first book in the series is called My Brilliant Friend – might widen the circle of people who know her identity in order to more freely collaborate with the writers and director who will be reworking thousands of pages of her text, the answer was decisive: no. All communication, including with Piccolo, a famous novelist in his own right, will likely pass through her editors Sandro Ferri and Sandra Ozzola, as it always has.
“It will not be very easy, probably,” said an official at Fandango, the Italian production house that is co-producing the series with Wildside, before quickly adding: “The books are so good, maybe it doesn’t matter.”