Weekend Entertainment: Sue Grafton’s alphabet novels headed to television

NEW YORK (AP) — A TV adaptation of the late Sue Grafton’s million-selling Kinsey Millhone mystery novels, a prospect the author once swore she would return from the dead to prevent, is now the works.

A+E Studios announced this week that it had acquired rights to Grafton’s alphabet series, with such titles as “A Is for Alibi” and “E Is for Evidence.” Grafton completed 25 Millhone books, through “Y Is for Yesterday,” but died in 2017 before she could write a story for Z.

“Sue Grafton is the ultimate storyteller who spent decades entertaining readers through her rich characters and spellbinding mysteries,” Barry Jossen, president and head of A+E Studios, said in a statement. “We are honored to carry on her legacy and bring these timeless stories to life. We are actively speaking with interested platforms and seeking a showrunner for the series, as well as the perfect actress to embody the coveted lead role of Kinsey Millhone.”

Grafton’s many fans might celebrate the chance to see her work on the screen, and wonder who might play the famed sleuth Millhone. They might also remember a vow she made back in 1997, recalling her unhappy experiences writing for television movies before she caught on as a novelist.

“I will never sell (Kinsey) to Hollywood. And, I have made my children promise not to sell her. We’ve taken a blood oath, and if they do so I will come back from the grave: which they know I can do,” she told January Magazine. “They’re going to have to pass the word on to my grandchildren: we do not sell out our grandma.”

Grafton’s daughter Jamie Clark reaffirmed her mother’s vow when announcing her death four years ago, but the author’s husband and executive producer of the series, Steve Humphrey, says he and the family have agreed that the times — and the medium — have changed.

“Television has greatly evolved since Sue was writing in Hollywood in the 1980s. From her experience then, she was concerned that her stories and characters would be diminished when they were adapted. But as the power of television has transformed over time, so too has the quality from writing and acting to the production values and viewing experience,” Humphrey said in a statement issued through A+E and also posted on Grafton’s Facebook page.

“I selected A+E Studios as my partner because they understand the importance of maintaining the tone and tenor of Sue’s work and the character and are dedicated to working with us to bring her stories to life in a way that that will please both current and new fans, and will also honor her legacy.

“Together her children and I believe Sue would bless this decision and would be delighted to see her cherished Alphabet murder series live on and reach millions of new and existing fans around the world.”