‘Foundation’ TV Show: Whatever Happened To HBO’s 'Foundation' Series Adaptation?

Ed Harris plays a murderous cowboy in the HBO remake of 'Westworld.' HBO

Way back in the long-lost, halcyon days of 2014, when the world was young, HBO made a truly momentous announcement. Jonathan Nolan was going to adapt Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series into a television show for the network. Well, that was 2014 and we haven’t really heard much of anything about it since then. So, what’s the deal? Is one of the greatest and most iconic science fiction series ever written actually coming to HBO?

HBO’s Foundation Series: Not In Limbo, Unless It Is

When Foundation was first announced, the Internet rejoiced. Isaac Asimov’s series, which started in the 1950s and was revived in the 1980s, is rightly acclaimed as a masterpiece of the genre, and its influence is felt throughout science fiction even today. But, like Game of Thrones before it, it’s not really the sort of thing that seemed conducive to a television adaptation. Foundation spans five centuries and many very separate stories; it’s the tale of the fall of an Empire and the rise of its science-driven successor, not a story driven by characters. It’s always been a tough nut to crack; the closest analogue is really The Silmarillion, J. R. R. Tolkien’s magnum opus / history textbook.

Well, Jonathan Nolan is taking a crack at it. Here’s the trouble, though, and the reason we’re not hearing anything about it: Nolan is already busy with another HBO series, Westworld, which premieres in October. Nolan is working as a director and a co-writer, as well as an executive producer. The first two demand intimate involvement; he’s not just lending his name to the project. Same deal with Foundation: Nolan is attached as both a writer and a producer. Those aren’t jobs that can easily cross over. Moreover, Westworld was delayed and took longer than expected, so it’s highly likely that active work on Foundation hasn’t even really begun.

The most recent news about Foundation is from way back in April 2015, when Nolan spoke about it on a panel (tracked down by Reddit but since removed from YouTube). According to the Reddit thread, Nolan stated that Foundation was definitely happening. It was just a matter of time. Well, a lot of time has passed since then, with no news. That is disheartening, but the Westworld situation leaves us with no reason to think that Foundation is dead. It could still happen. At the least, it’s the closest we’ve ever come.

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