‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ EP Liz Tigelaar On The Challenges Of Adapting An Advice Column Into A Series – Contenders TV

It was on the set of Wild that Tiny Beautiful Things author and executive producer Cheryl Strayed knew she wanted to work with Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Dern again after having “so much fun” collaborating together.

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Strayed said Saturday at the Deadline’s Contenders Television awards-season event that the trio ended up becoming “very dear friends” adding that their work is something that she “deeply admired” and women who she could trust would honor her memoir.

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Executive producer Liz Tigelaar said that she had been a fan of Strayed’s work and when she was approached by Witherspoon’s producing partner Lauren Neustadter about the adaptation she immediately said, “Yes, I’m in! And then, I was like, ‘I have no idea, how do you adapt advice columns?’”

Hulu’s Tiny Beautiful Things stars Kathryn Hahn as Clare, a writer who reluctantly becomes an advice columnist amid a heavy period in her life with flashbacks to her youth.

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Tigelaar said that it was the “Ghost Ship” column that shaped the show: “In essence, the show became a ghost ship show. We started to imagine, ‘What if Cheryl hadn’t hiked the Pacific Crest trail? And what if she hadn’t become this famous writer and accomplished her dreams and goals? What were her life look like had she not done that?’ That started to become the basis of the show. We took this idea, not so much focused on the letter writers but looking at the non-linear memoir nature of the book and how we would start to weave in how past and present affect each other and how Clare as a character could mine her past for the answers that she gives other people to help them and in turn she turns to help and save herself.”

Hahn said that she was not familiar with Strayed’s Dear Sugar column and that it “worked in her favor” playing Clare. “I didn’t have a lot of preconceived notions of who she was,” she said. “I just knew this Clare and this piece of writing, and it was only after reading and falling in love with this Clare that I had seen written by Liz Tigelaar that then I was able to go back and be informed by that incredible source material that was the inspiration for the whole thing.”

Tigelaar recruited Ingrid Michaelson to score the show by telling her she “wanted [her] essence all over this.” Michaelson said the show really resonated with her as she experienced the death of her mother a couple of years ago.

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“I just kind of had to tap into a lot of pain and a lot of longing in my own ghost ship,” she said. “The ideas came in so quickly to me and it’s laced throughout the whole show — my guts are poured out throughout the whole show, melodically speaking. When you have material like this, for me it was really easy and natural and wonderful to be able to synthesize that musically.”

Check back Tuesday for the panel video.

Deadline Contenders Television is sponsored by Apple TV+, Coverfly, Eyepetizer, Final Draft, Los Siete Misterios, Michter’s, and Village Roadshow Entertainment. Partners include: Four Seasons Resort Maui, The American Pavilion, Julia Wong Designs and Pampring.

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