With a bestselling novel as its foundation, a critically acclaimed writer and director at the helm, the backing of prestige-series juggernaut HBO, and one of the best casts ever assembled for television (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ewan McGregor, Diane Wiest, Rhys Ifans, Greta Gerwig, and Chris Cooper were all set to star), The Corrections seemed like a surefire hit.
So what happened? Showrunner Noah Baumbach—who was nominated for an Oscar for his 2005 film, The Squid and the Whale—blames his own inexperience with TV. Baumbach is an accomplished filmmaker, but he hadn't worked in television before The Corrections. As a result, Baumbach's take on Jonathan Franzen's novel was "too complex" to work as a television series, and Baumbach realized that he wasn't up to "the challenge of looking at something over a long period of time, that was ongoing and had no end."
The show was also prohibitively expensive, even for a premium network like HBO. "It was the kind of show that most people would do for two cents," Baumbach said, "and we were spending what Game of Thrones spends." Baumbach never finished the pilot, and the project was abandoned.