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story.lead_photo.caption Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel, has been adapted in a new film by HBO and stars Michael Shannon (left) and Michael B. Jordan as “firemen” whose job it is to burn all books.

First, some business.

Today wraps up the 2018 upfront announcements when the five broadcast networks present their fall and midseason shows ahead of the advertising buying season. The big announcements showcase the new lineups in hopes of scoring early ad sales.

The early deadline for The TV Column precludes me from commenting yet, but stay tuned, I'll have columns featuring what has been canceled, what has been renewed and which new shows look promising beginning Tuesday.

On to other stuff.

• Fahrenheit 451. This new original HBO film debuts from 7 to 8:40 p.m. Saturday. Based on the classic 1953 Ray Bradbury dystopian novel of the same name, the film "depicts an alternate tomorrow where media is an opiate, facts and history are rewritten and 'firemen' burn books."

Yes, a totalitarian government employs so-called "firemen" to seek out and burn books with flamethrowers wherever they are found. Dedicated firemen believe in their mission because the "insane" ideas in books are actually hurting mankind.

The film stars Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Black Panther) and Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, The Shape of Water). Jordan plays Guy Montag, a young Cleveland fireman increasingly conflicted by his book-burning role. His mentor and boss is Captain Beatty, played by Shannon.

Sofia Boutella (The Mummy, Kingsman: The Secret Service) portrays Clarisse McClellan, a young, free-spirited outcast forced to work as an informant for Beatty. She causes Montag to question his life.

In an HBO video, director Ramin Bahrani says, "The concept is so provocative. Two years ago, as I looked at the world around me, it seemed like the ideal time to do a modern interpretation. We really want people to recognize themselves in the world we're creating."

Bradbury, who died in 2012 at the age of 91, seems to have altered his own interpretation of the book over the decades.

In the early 1950s, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy gained infamy with his anticommunist "Red Scare" witch hunts. In a 1956 NBC Radio interview, Bradbury said, "I wrote this book at a time when I was worried about the way things were going in this country. There was a threat of book burning. Many books were being taken off the shelves at that time."

Decades later in a 2007 interview with L.A. Weekly, Bradbury said that contrary to the common belief, his novel was not a condemnation of government censorship or a response to McCarthyism, but about "how television destroys interest in reading literature. It's about people being turned into morons by TV."

That's fairly prescient for a 1953 novel, because TV was a still novelty. And it also seems a bit disingenuous because Bradbury gained fame, fortune and influence after many of his works were adapted for television.

They included the 65 episodes he wrote for the anthology series The Ray Bradbury Theater (HBO, 1985-86; USA, 1988-1992). Bradbury also hosted the series.

Trivia: Before he died, Bradbury picked out his burial site and marker in Los Angeles' Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. His headstone reads, "Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012, Author of Fahrenheit 451".

• 13 Reasons Why. All 13 episodes of Season 2 stream Friday on Netflix. It will pick up "in the aftermath of Hannah's death and the start of our characters' complicated journeys toward healing and recovery."

For those unfamiliar with the controversial TV-MA series, 13 Reasons Why is a teen mystery drama based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Jay Asher. In Season 1, the tale revolved around high school student Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), who committed suicide, but left behind a box of cassette tapes detailing the 13 reasons -- and people -- she blamed for her action.

A number of mental health professionals considered the series dangerous for impressionable teens to watch. In response, Netflix added content warnings and says, "We encourage you to direct readers to should they need help or support. New resources will be added, including ... a set of videos where cast members address issues in the series, including bullying, sexual assault and drug abuse."

Wedding reminder. Meanwhile, don't forget the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is at 6 a.m. Saturday (noon in London), with live coverage starting well before that.

CBS is the earliest bird, beginning at 3 a.m. Saturday. NBC follows at 3:30, ABC and TLC are at 4, E! and CNN kick in at 5, PBS at 6 and HBO at 6:30 a.m.

If you want to watch while listening to British accents at the same time, BBC America has true Anglophiles covered starting at 3:15 a.m., with follow-up coverage from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:

Weekend on 05/17/2018

Print Headline: Burn a couple hours watching Fahrenheit 451

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