By the time of his death in early 2015, David Carr, the highly respected media critic of the New York Times, had come to seem like something of an elder statesman in American journalism. This, despite his never reaching the age of 60.
But during his early days with the now-defunct Twin Cities Reader, Carr was a fearless reporter, to sources, and a fearsome character, to colleagues and friends. A hardcore drug addict and alcoholic, prone to fits of rage, Carr behaved in those years in ways that could easily have ended with prison or his premature death.
It was these harrowing stories that fill up his 2008 memoir, The Night of the Gun, a long-shot redemption story with most of its major scenes set in Minneapolis.
That bestselling book is now set to become a six-part miniseries on AMC, the network behind Mad Men, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and its successor, Better Call Saul. That show's star, Bob Odenkirk, has been the driving force behind getting Carr's surprisingly touching memoir optioned for the small screen, and will star as the Minneapolis native in the miniseries.
“I read David’s story, ‘The Night of the Gun,’ when it came out," Odenkirk said Monday, "and was wildly entertained by his saga. It’s a story of survival filled with pain, crack, journalistic righteousness, abandoned cars, crooks, lies, and then there’s the two little girls who saved his life; it’s overstuffed with humanity."
The show will be written — perhaps given its rich source material, edited is a better term — by Shawn Ryan, whose past television credits include a number of hardboiled crime dramas. Ryan called Carr's memoir "a searing, hysterical look at the demon of addiction," adding he "couldn't be more honored to help bring his story to life" with Odenkirk's help.
The AMC press release doesn't specify when the show will go into production or hit the air; Odenkirk's Better Call Saul is currently airing its second season, and, as of March, was set to begin filming a third 10-episode run this October.
Also unstated is if the story that relies so heavily on a Twin Cities landscape will actually see any filming done in town.
As for the choice of Odenkirk to play Carr, one suspects the late writer would have approved. One of Carr's last feature stories before his death was about the actor, and his successful spin-off show, with Carr noting approvingly a "very un-actorly earnestness, a complete absence of vanity" about the 52-year-old actor.
Mr. Odenkirk credits his acting run with a “poor sense of boundaries,” nothing more. “People always tell me how honest I am and the truth is I don’t know how to be brave in that way,” he said. “I just don’t know how to play it any different.”Sounds about right for the role.