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Elena Ferrante’s juggernaut ‘My Brilliant Friend’ heading to HBO

Books by the pseudonymous author Elena Ferrante are international bestsellers.
(Europa)

Elena Ferrante’s bestselling book “My Brilliant Friend” is headed to the small screen, courtesy of HBO and RAI, Italy’s national public broadcasting company.

Set in Naples, “My Brilliant Friend” centers on Elena Greco, as she recalls her lifelong relationship with dear friend — and dear enemy — Lila, beginning with their first year of primary school in 1950 and through the next 60 years of their lives.

Production is scheduled to begin on the eight-episode drama series this summer, with Italy’s Saverio Costanzo directing all eight episodes.

“We are thrilled to partner with Wildside, RAI and Fandango to bring the powerful, epic storytelling of Elena Ferrante and her Neapolitan novels to life,” said Casey Bloys, president of HBO programming, in a statement released Thursday.

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“Through her characters, Elena and Lila, we will witness a lifelong friendship set against the seductive social web of Naples, Italy. An exploration of the complicated intensity of female friendship, these ambitious stories will no doubt resonate with the HBO audience.”

The exploration of complicated female friendships comes on the heels of the premium cable network’s success with “Big Little Lies,” a miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty.

“My Brilliant Friend,” an adaptation of the first book in Ferrante’s four-part series, will be written by Ferrante, along with Francesco Piccolo, Laura Paolucci and director Costanzo.

The HBO-RAI series will be produced by Wildside and Fandango with FremantleMedia International handling distribution.

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In February 2016, Wildside and Fandango announced intentions to adapt all four of Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels into a series featuring four eight-episode seasons. At the time, the companies were looking for international co-production partners that they seem to have found in HBO.

Plans for adapting the other three books in the Neapolitan series have yet to be announced.

The international co-production is the latest for HBO, which debuted “The Young Pope” in January, a collaboration with Sky Atlantic and Canal also filmed in Italy.

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libby.hill@latimes.com

@midwestspitfire

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