Patti Smith's Just Kids to become TV series
Rock poet's award-winning memoir to be latest of slew of 70s music dramas
It's been announced that Patti Smith's book about her friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids, is to be adapted into a limited series for US network Showtime. The book won the 2010 National Book Award for non-fiction, and Smith is co-adapting it with John Logan (Hugo , Skyfall, Spectre ). Showtime landed the rights to Just Kids on the grounds that Logan is also the creator of the Showtime/Sky horror series Penny Dreadful, of which Smith is a fan.
Just Kids follows a recent trend in making TV drama out of the 70s American music scene, which isn't necessarily nostalgia for a simpler time with worse haircuts. Much great American popular music of the late 70s was fostered by a unique combination of manic creativity, raw talent, urban deprivation, ready availability of illegal drugs and corporate irresponsibility. This is the subject of HBO's Vinyl , created by Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire) and executive produced by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger, which follows the fortunes of record label boss Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale) as he tries to negotiate changing trends in music; given that the likes of Winter and Scorsese are overseeing it, no surprise that it involves the vigorous deployment of baseball bats.
Meanwhile, over on Netflix, Baz Luhrmann is currently shooting The Get Down, which, like Just Kids, is set in NYC and which looks at how the crumbling city, which narrowly avoided bankruptcy in 1975, gave birth to hip-hop, disco and America's particular flavour of punk. Jimmy Smits stars as a political boss; Grandmaster Flash is a regular character.
In the meantime, Patti Smith herself doesn’t so much rest on her laurels as make more laurels: her most recent album Banga was as mercurial as ever, she's working on a further volume of memoirs, M Train, and she continues to give magisterial live shows. Unlike her hero Arthur Rimbaud, she shows no signs of falling silent.