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#nerdfight: Lionsgate to bring 'Hatching Twitter' to TV

The book by New York Times journalist Nick Bilton recounting the behind-the-scenes drama of the social network's rise is officially headed to Hollywood.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
3 min read
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The tumultuous tale of Twitter's rise to social ubiquity is coming to a living room -- and more likely laptop -- screen near you. Lionsgate announced Wednesday that it would be adapting New York Times journalist Nick Bilton's bestseller "Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal" as a TV project.

Skeptics scoffed at the idea of a Facebook film back in 2009, only to see the results of that endeavor -- the Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher project "The Social Network" -- prove to be one of the best films of the last decade and a telling portrait of the backstabbing power plays behind Silicon Valley's new generation. In hindsight, Facebook's early days and legal troubles were a Hollywood thriller waiting to happen. The social network's younger and more pithy companion, Twitter, has an analogous and even more dramatic story that has made Bilton's book a bestseller since hitting shelves on November 5.

Bilton is slated to write the script and act as producer and "The Hunger Games"' Allison Shearmur is onboard as executive producer. Given the current landscape of the medium to be what many consider a golden age -- or the ending of one -- it's hard to argue with the merits of modern television as a gripping way to tell a more nuanced and drawn-out story.

"Twitter has transformed almost every aspect of our lives from politics to business to friendship, and I can't think of a more compelling story to adapt for television right now," Kevin Beggs, chairman of Lionsgate Entertainment Group, said in a statement. "Nick's book has all the elements of a great drama with its complex characters, high-stakes power struggles and betrayed friendships."

High-stakes power struggles and betrayed friendships were perhaps the only two constants in the early days of Twitter. Not only did the very person who named the social network, Noah Glass, get kicked out of the company before it had barely gained traction with the public, but the two people who allegedly colluded to pull off that ousting -- tech veteran Evan Williams of Blogger fame and current Square CEO and founder Jack Dorsey -- were both given the door in subsequent years, Williams even doing so to Dorsey before getting pushed out himself. Needless to say, Twitter's leadership hurdles will make for some juicy television.

As was the case with "The Social Network," it will be interesting to see which actors will step into the socially awkward shoes of the various tech geniuses of the not-so-distant past. Differentiating itself from the controversial story of Facebook is that the founding of Twitter has a far more robust cast of characters orbiting the origins of the social network. Dorsey, Williams, and Glass are just three of a large group of diverse technologists, from the hackavists at Odeo, the company that would dissolve into Twitter, to the media personalities like Om Malik and Michael Arrington who influenced how the service began to take on a life of its own beyond the Valley.

"'Hatching Twitter' will go behind the scenes of a groundbreaking Silicon Valley company in a way that's never been captured before on television," Shearmur said in a statement. "'The Social Network' was a perfect film, and this series will be different, providing a longer view of the work life changes, gamesmanship and personal sacrifices made by a group of individuals who are building a company that will change the way that people communicate."