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George Clooney makes TV return with 'Catch-22,' two decades after ER

Clooney will direct and star in the six-episode series, based on US author Joseph Heller’s darkly comedic 1961 novel 'Catch-22'.

FILE: George Clooney. Picture: AFP

LOS ANGELES - George Clooney will make his return to television in a serialized adaptation of Catch-22, Paramount Television said on Thursday, nearly 20 years after he left hit show ER to become one of film’s biggest names.

Clooney will direct and star in the six-episode series, based on US author Joseph Heller’s darkly comedic 1961 novel Catch-22, for Viacom Inc’s Paramount Television and Anonymous Content, shooting in early 2018, the studio said.

The show has not yet been acquired by a network for distribution but is likely to draw eager bidders given Clooney’s involvement.

Catch-22 follows a US soldier named Yossarian during World War Two, who is infuriated that his own army keeps raising the number of missions that a soldier must complete to be released from duty. Yossarian’s only way to avoid the missions is to declare insanity, but the only way to prove insanity is a willingness to embark on dangerous missions, thus creating the novel’s absurd ‘catch-22.’

Clooney, 56, will play Yossarian’s commander, Colonel Cathcart. No other cast has yet been announced.

The actor’s move to television comes on the heels of Oscar-winning stars such as Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Robert De Niro and Michael Douglas, who have all taken on small screen projects in recent years.

More than 400 scripted TV shows are currently produced every year in the United States across traditional broadcast and cable networks and services such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and newcomer Apple, contributing to what many have said is ‘a new golden age’ of television.‎

Clooney broke out as an actor on television series such as The Facts of Life, Roseanne and as part of the original cast of medical drama ER in 1994, playing Dr Doug Ross. He left ER in 1999 and since then has carved a successful career with films such as the Ocean’s Eleven franchise, Up in the Air and Gravity.

He most recently directed and co-wrote Paramount Pictures’ dark comedy-thriller Suburbicon.

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