Coen Brothers Adapting Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union

February 12, 2008
Source: Variety

The Coen Brothers

The Coen Brothers are currently living high in all of the Oscar buzz for No Country for Old Men. And they're liking to win a couple on February 24th, too. They've already slated their next three movies, starting with Burn After Reading which is already in post-production, a dark comedy titled A Serious Man, and then The Yiddish Policemen's Union after that. The former two have already been announced, but The Yiddish Policemen's Union was announced as their follow-up today. The film is an adaptation of the bestselling Michael Chabon novel about a noir-style murder mystery set in Alaska.

The novel is introduced on as: What if, as Franklin Roosevelt proposed on the eve of World War II, a temporary Jewish settlement had been established on the Alaska panhandle? Roosevelt's plan went nowhere, but Chabon runs the idea into the present, back-loading his tale with a haunting history. Israel failed to get a foothold in the Middle East, and since the Sitka solution was only temporary, Alaskan Jews are about to lose their cold homeland. The book's timeless refrain: "It's a strange time to be a Jew." Into this world arrives Chabon's Chandler-ready hero, Meyer Landsman, a drunken rogue cop who wakes in a flophouse to find that one of his neighbors has been murdered. With his half-Tlingit, half-Jewish partner and his sexy-tough boss, who happens also to be his ex-wife, Landsman investigates a fascinating underworld of Orthodox black-hat gangs and crime-lord rabbis.

If that synopsis doesn't justify your needs, try this one. The book sets up a scenario where Jewish settlers are about to be displaced by the US government's plans to turn the frozen locale of Sitka, Alaska over to Alaskan natives. The story is a noir-style murder mystery in which a rogue cop investigates the killing of a heroin-addicted chess prodigy who might be the messiah. Sounds both complicated, intriguing, and the perfect kind of book for the Coen Brothers to adapt. Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions, but do I smell Oscar nominations for The Yiddish Policemen's Union already?

Ethan and Joel Coen will write, direct, and produce. Scott Rudin, who adapted Michael Chabon's other books Wonder Boys and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, will produce as well. Given the current schedule that the Coens are in, expect The Yiddish Policemen's Union by mid-to-late 2009.

While everything sounds fairly legitimate in terms of this being in the official upcoming schedule for the Coen Brothers, as opposed to the western they mentioned before or any of the other projects listed on their IMDb page (Hail Caesar, Suburbicon, Gambit), I need to take a moment to provide some commentary on the world of news today. In this day and age with electronic media (that'd be us), if you are even seen in the same room as someone it becomes news that spreads like wildfire across all the digital domains. Back in the day you'd never hear about projects until they were actually in production, but in today's time, every last thing gets reported like it's their next big thing, even if it doesn't happen for another 5 or 10 years. For all we know, the Coen's could direct another three movies before they get to The Yiddish Policemen's Union, but at least for now, this is what we're reporting.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union

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best. news. evar.

sal cangeloso on Feb 12, 2008


Well I'm always excited to hear about new Coen Brothers movies since theyve directed some of my all time favorite movies like Fargo and O Brother Where Art Thou

Alexander on Feb 12, 2008


Sounds interesting. I love when the Coens do noir.

Zach D. on Feb 12, 2008


I have read this book and I think it is the perfect pick for the Coens. It was funny you mentioned Oscars because as I was reading this I thought the same thing.

Nevin on Feb 12, 2008


Well, it's just because the subject matter, as described above, seems very intelligent enough to be Oscar caliber, especially in the very capable hands of the Coens. I'm sure if you would have heard a good synopsis of the No Country for Old Men book way back when and heard that the Coens of Fargo fame would be doing it, Oscar possibility might pop into your mind. Same here, and I really think the Coens could pull it off, especially considering they're about to win numerous Oscars this year...

Alex Billington on Feb 12, 2008


Great book, great (the best) directors, this will be ace!!!

Candy Castle on Mar 26, 2008

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