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PLAIN WHITE T'S
AP Photo/Richard Drew
Hey there, Hollywood?
"I SWEAR, IT'S TRUE"

Hollywood is now mining songs, paintings, and memes for ideas

By Adam Epstein

The hit 2006 song “Hey There Delilah” by American rock band Plain White T’s is being adapted into a scripted TV series, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The band and a team of producers are reportedly pitching a romantic comedy based on the song, described as a “contemporary fairy tale,” to networks this month.

One of the most popular rock ballads of the mid-2000s, “Hey There Delilah” (video) tells the story of a seemingly one-sided, long-distance flirtation between a struggling musician and a student in New York named Delilah. It was named after Delilah DiCrescenzo, a runner whom Plain White T’s frontman Tom Higgenson met briefly in 2002. The two never actually dated.

Naturally, the news that a 12-year-old pop song is being turned into a TV show was met with a mixture of banter and disdain:

Despite its clichéd, borderline creepy lyrics, “Hey There Delilah” is not the strangest basis for a TV show that’s been announced recently. That honor goes to the paintings of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, whose work will serve as the inspiration for a new science fiction series on Amazon. Stålenhag’s art, which is admittedly quite fascinating, blends idyllic Scandinavian landscapes with alien technology.

These unconventional sources of content speak to Hollywood’s desperation for new ideas. The entertainment industry already options the rights to virtually every mainstream book that’s written, so now it must look to other art forms and media for narrative cues.

This Friday (Aug. 10), audiences in the US will be treated to Slender Man, a horror film based on the fictional creature of the same name that was originally conceived in a 2009 “creepypasta” internet urban legend. In 2016, Syfy debuted Channel Zero, an anthology series based on a number of creepypastas.

Still, it gets stranger. Netflix is developing a feature film based on a popular internet meme of pop star Rihanna and actress Lupita Nyong’o. A photo of the two stars took on a life of its own on Tumblr and Twitter, where users joked the celebrities looked like two characters in a heist movie. Always open to any and all ideas, Netflix gobbled up the rights to the story concept at the Cannes Film Festival last year, winning an aggressive bidding war with other studios.

The thirst for fresh content ideas will not be quenched with songs, paintings, and memes alone. A future in which films and TV shows are regularly based on things like Snapchat filters and Fortnite Battle Royale dance moves can’t be too far away. Until then, we’ll have Hey There Delilah: The Series to keep us sated.