George Clooney Returns To Scripted Television In Hulu Limited Series ‘Catch-22’

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Hulu has released a first-look trailer for a new limited series that marks George Clooney’s return to scripted television in a new six-episode adaptation of Catch-22, according to Hollywood Reporter.

The series is based on the classic anti-war novel of the same name by Joseph Heller, a madcap tale of a U.S. Air Force bombardier named Yossarian who deals with the absurdities of war in the European theater during World War II and tries to stay alive as his superiors keep increasing the number of missions the men must fly before being rotated home.

The series, set to be released on May 17, marks the second time the story has been adapted for the screen. The first was the 1970 film version by director Mike Nichols and starred Alan Arkin as Yossarian. That role is being played in the new series by Christopher Abbott, who played Charlie on HBO’s Girls.

In his first return to scripted television since his run on E.R., Clooney was set to play Colonel Cathcart, a role originally played by Martin Balsam. Instead, the O, Brother Where Art Thou and The Men Who Stare At Goats actor opted for the smaller role of Scheisskopf in order to allow Friday Night Lights alum Kyle Chandler to take on the role of Cathcart.

The series will also mark the reunion of Chandler and Clooney, who produced Argo. In that 2012 film, Chandler played Hamilton Jordan. Hugh Laurie also stars as the weird and inscrutable Major de Coverly, along with Grant Heslov (Argo) and Tessa Ferrer (Grey’s Anatomy.) Clooney and Heslov are executive producing as well for Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures, and Richard Brown and Steve Golin are executive producing for Anonymous Content.

Grant Heslov and George Clooney speaking at a 'Catch-22' media event.Featured image credit: Rachel MurrayGetty Images

The story follows Yossarian as he tries to avoid being shot out of the skies over Italy and tries to navigate the lunatic bureaucracy of the military. Author Heller coined the phrase Catch-22, now part of everyday parlance to mean any contradictory situation that is not resolvable due to the illogical rules or conditions.

In the original, it refers to a fictional Air Force rule that only someone who is insane can be grounded or taken off of active duty. But in order to be grounded, that soldier must ask to be certified as insane. However, anyone who asks to be grounded believes in self-preservation, and thus can’t be certified as insane. Therefore, they must continue to fly missions.

Clooney’s character is the clueless Scheiskopf, who is mad for parades and tries to force the men, seriously low on morale due to the ever-increasing number of missions they’re required to fly, to march in ever more elaborate and ridiculous parades.