“The Devil in the White City” Coming to Hulu

On May 16 was born the enterprising serial killer Dr. H.H. Holmes (1861-1896). Naturally we do not celebrate the day; we abjure the man and his deeds (just put yourself in the shoes of one of his victims, if that hasn’t already occurred to you.) But we DO celebrate the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (a.k.a. Chicago World’s Fair) which provided the setting for the climax of Holmes’ grisly career (we wrote about the fair here and here. World’s fairs have been on our mind of late).

And we also celebrate The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, Erik Larson’s amazing 2003 book that juxtaposed the story of the Chicago World’s Fair with that of Holmes’ bizarre life and crimes. We’d known for years that Leonardo Di Caprio had purchased the rights in 2010, with the idea that Martin Scorsese would direct a film of the story with Leo as the Mad Doctor (it would make an interesting bookend with Gangs of New York, you will admit). After nearly a decade, there is finally some movement on this front. Back in February it was announced that a new series is in development for Hulu, with Di Caprio and Scorsese as executive producers. There has been no announcement about whether Di Caprio is still playing Holmes. Holmes was 35 when he was executed; Di Caprio is 44 at this writing. Nothing has ever stopped an actor from playing a role he has aged out of, but the possibility exists that the role will go to someone else. You must admit there’s a certain amount of risk in being too closely identified with such a character!  At any rate, it may be some time until the show makes it to the screen. Meantime, I highly recommend the book, if you are one of the few who hasn’t read it!