Tales of the City, the television miniseries based on the first of the Tales of the City series of novels by Armistead Maupin, premiered today, September 28, in 1993, in the United Kingdom.
To date, the first three books have been adapted into television miniseries; the first, Tales of the City, was produced by the UK's Channel 4 and was first screened in the UK, then shown on PBS in the United States in January 1994. Channel 4 eventually teamed up with the American cable network Showtime to produce the sequel, More Tales of the City, which premiered in the US and UK in 1998. The third instalment of the series, Further Tales of the City was produced by Showtime (without Channel 4) and was originally aired in the United States on Showtime in May 2001.
Premium cable channel HBO acquired the rights to the first two Tales of the City books in 1982 in the hopes of turning them into a weekly sitcom. Pre-production began in the fall of that year with a pilot script by Richard Kramer. Kramer described the script as a "Mary Tyler Moore for the '80s". In the face of the rising AIDS epidemic and a changing social climate in the conservative Reagan era, HBO reportedly felt that the book's celebratory attitude toward homosexuality, casual sex and marijuana usage would not be deemed acceptable by the viewing public. The channel considered toning down the stories and making the series a period piece but ultimately decided to scrap the project.
The series was later revived for PBS, which aired it in 1993. However, its airing of the series was controversial, with political figures criticizing the network for airing an LGBT-oriented series, and the network backed out of producing or airing any follow-up installments.
Variety reported in June the series may be coming back to television.
Netflix is developing a new installment of “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City” with Working Title Television U.S. Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis are on board to revive the characters they played in Showtime and PBS adaptations of the landmark LGBT-themed novel series in the 1990s.
Michael Cunningham (“The Hours”) has penned the first script for what is envisioned as a 10-part installment, although the project does not yet have a series order from Netflix.
The Netflix series would be set in the present day, focusing on Linney’s Mary Ann Singleton character as she returns to San Francisco and the boarding house after 25 years away.