Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Peter Lefcourt's "Purgatory Gardens"

Peter Lefcourt is a refugee from the trenches of Hollywood, where he has distinguished himself as a writer and producer of film and television.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Purgatory Gardens:
This is a no-brainer:

MARCY GRAY, the aging actress and eternal ingénue: Meryl Streep.

SAMMY DEE, the ex-mafioso in Witness Protection: If we can’t bring James Gandolfini back, I’d go with Jack Nicholson.

DIDIER ONYEKACHUKWU, the former corrupt Minister of Finance of Upper Volta: Morgan Freeman.

EVELYN DUBOFF, intrepid private eye and Palm Springs yenta: Kathy Bates.

MARSHAL DILLON, the federal marshal and Sammy’s conduit to the outside world: Kevin Spacey.

WALT and BIFF KELLER, father-and-son hit men, and patio deck installers: Tom and Colin Hanks.

Publishers Weekly pronounced the book “a novel ready made for the movies.” Who am I to disagree with them?
Visit Peter Lefcourt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tamara Ellis Smith's "Another Kind of Hurricane"

Tamara Ellis Smith earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Richmond, Vermont, with her family.

Here Smith dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Another Kind of Hurricane:
I love color and shape, I love picture book illustrations, and I love movies – but I don't think in images at all. I think in words, and, more specifically in sounds and rhythms and energy. That said, I have definitely imagined Another Kind of Hurricane as a movie – Oh that would be so exciting! – but I have envisioned actors based on their energies more than anything. I love strong and quirky woven together. A few people have been in my mind from the get-go who bring that mix to their work.

I see Alfre Woodard as Ms. Cyn. I think I first saw her way back when in Passion Fish and have loved her ever since. She is fierce and funny, and has a sense of wisdom about her, a sense of knowing the truth of the matter.

I see Sam Rockwell as Jake. He is brilliant in Way Way Back – a bit of a smart-ass, disorganized and unwound like an empty spool attached to a pile of knotted thread. But really, deep down, he is solid in his beliefs and enormously big-hearted.

I imagine Chiwetel Ejiofer as Ben. I fell in love with him in Love Actually and will see anything he is in. He, too, is fierce and has an energy range that would allow him, I think, to dig into all of Ben's nuances.

I have always thought of Catherine Keener as Henry's mom, Eliza. I loved her in Walking and Talking, as well as Lovely and Amazing. She plays a great mom and she has a disheveled beauty, inside and out.

And Toni Collette would be fantastic as Wayne's mom, Annie. From the time I saw her in Muriel's Wedding I have been obsessed with her. She, like Catherine, plays a mean mom, and she just has this essence that is authentic and, for me anyway, mesmerizing. I adore her. Like Chiwetel, I actively seek Catherine and Toni out and will watch them in whatever I can find.

I've thought about some of the other main characters in Hurricane too. These took me a little longer to land on, but I can imagine Nimrat Kauer as Cora and Ariadne Gil as Margarita. I also see Jeffrey Wright as Tavius, Don Cheadle as Isaac and Jordan Peele as Skeet. What a dynamic trio!

Oddly, though, my two main characters have eluded me more than anyone else. I have gone around and around who could play Zavion and Henry, and truthfully, if Hurricane was really going to be made into a movie, and I had some say in who would get cast, I would ask that we go search for some unknown boys – kids that haven't necessarily done any TV work or movies, kids whose parents are not necessarily connected to the industry, but kids who have that certain energy. Probably kids who, in their actual lives, have experienced a tragedy or who have that unusual older-than-their-years feeling about them – like Alex Shaffer, who was brilliant in Win Win, but had never acted before. That said, if I had to pick right now I would probably pick Marcus Scribner to play Zavion. I like him in Blackish and I think he knows how to play obsessed and focused. And I'd probably pick Liam James to play Henry. He was in Way Way Back and pulls off awkward and inarticulate very well. Both boys have an off-the-beaten-path quality as well as a sense of depth, I think.
Visit Tamara Ellis Smith's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 28, 2015

Robert Masello's "The Einstein Prophecy"

Robert Masello is an award-winning journalist, television writer (Charmed, Sliders, Poltergeist: the Legacy) and the bestselling author of many novels and nonfiction books, including Blood and Ice, The Medusa Amulet, and The Romanov Cross. His most recent supernatural thriller, The Einstein Prophecy, occupied the # 1 slot in the Amazon Kindle story for much of July. He lives and works in Santa Monica, CA.

Here Masello dreamcasts an adaptation of The Einstein Prophecy:
At some point in every author’s life, he or she briefly dreams of what the book might look like as a movie, and who might be in it. I try not to focus on it, but since we’re dreaming here, if I were to cast the major roles in The Einstein Prophecy, I’d give some serious thought to the following.

For the role of Einstein, there’s a raft of veteran character actors (all of the ones who come to mind, interestingly enough, are from the UK) who might be wonderful in the role. In the book, set in 1945, Einstein is in his mid- 60s, so someone like Jonathan Pryce (who was so wonderful in Wolf Hall recently), or Gary Oldman (who can disappear into any role at all), or the venerable Derek Jacobi, whose face actually has much the right heft and shape to it.

For Lieutenant Lucas Athan, my hero . . . I’m drawing only one name – Michael Fassbender, also a protean actor -- who projects intelligence and intensity. Lucas is a wounded American war vet, who has returned to Princeton to teach art history, and then gets recruited by the OSS to decipher the meaning and importance of an ancient ossuary (a sort of sarcophagus) that has landed at the university for urgent study. This is a brilliant but tormented guy, with only eye left, and who has walled himself off from life in many ways.

For the heroine, Simone Rashid, I need an exotic beauty of half-English, half-Egyptian extraction. I wish I knew more Arabic actresses, but seeing as she is also half-English, I’d go with the beautiful Olivia Wilde. The character is a very determined and serious scholar of antiquity, strong and resourceful at every turn, with whom Lucas eventually falls in love.

Finally, when it comes to the director, I have two choices -- JJ Abrams, because he’s great at it and because this spooky material might really be up his alley. (Also, my young cousin works for his company, Bad Robot – which couldn’t hurt.) Or, if JJ’s too busy, I have a dark horse candidate – Mark Romanek, best known perhaps for his slew of stunning music videos, including my favorite, The Perfect Drug by Nine Inch Nails. (If you haven’t seen it, watch it!) Also, he went to New Trier High School on the North Shore of Chicago; I went to its rival, Evanston Township. Together, we could create détente.
Learn more about the book and author at Robert Masello's website.

The Page 69 Test: Blood and Ice.

The Page 69 Test: The Medusa Amulet.

The Page 69 Test: The Einstein Prophecy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

John Hagedorn's "The Insane Chicago Way"

John M. Hagedorn is professor of criminology, law, and justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of People and Folks and A World of Gangs, coeditor of Female Gangs in America, and editor of Gangs in the Global City.

Here he and an associate dreamcast an adaptation of his latest book, The Insane Chicago Way: The Daring Plan by Chicago Gangs to Create a Spanish Mafia:
In$ane was the product of a unique collaboration between the author and an Outfit (Chicago’s mafia) solider, Sal Martino. Sal was the godfather of the C-Note$, the Outfit’s minor league team. Sal fondly called the five C-Note leaders he mentored, “Two Dagos, Two Spics, and a Hillbilly.” With Sal’s encouragement, the C-Note$ joined a secret “Spanish mafia,” Spanish Growth & Development, that had goals of controlling violence, organizing crime, and corrupting police. In$ane is a tragedy of how SGD rose and collapsed in a bloody “war of the families.” Since I’m not a movie buff, I asked Sal to write how he’d produce a movie base on the book. Here is what he wrote:
The film would open in 1989, focusing on five guys, Dominick, Sammy, Joey Bags, Mo-Mo, and Lucky, as they grow up in and around an area known as “The Patch,” in Chicago’s Little Italy.

Mo-Mo (Freddy Rodriguez) is a college student by day and a gangster by night, Joey Bags (Benjamin Bratt) is a high ranking old school gang member with ties to organized crime; Lucky (Stephen Dorph) and Sammy (Scott Caan) are currently incarcerated; Dominick (Jason Cerbone) is a section leader with family ties to organized crime. The film would offer a keen insight on the ties between gang violence, drugs, sex, and their ties to organized crime.

Mo-Mo has a young girlfriend Mercedes (Elisha Cuthbert) and is being recruited by the Chicago Outfit’s Grand Avenue Crew, but needs to run his own gang faction of the C-note$. Joey Bags is about to graduate from the gang to become an associate of the Grand Avenue Crew. Joey Bags has a girlfriend, Ala (Maria Bello). Tension exists between the two because he wants to have more than a sexual relationship with Ala, who resists the idea because of her ongoing relationship with a corrupt cop.

Mo-Mo is torn by his desire to be a success and live up to his family’s expectations and the pull of peer pressure to be more involved in the local organized crime culture with his new mentor Sal Martino (Andy Garcia).
Learn more about The Insane Chicago Way at the University of Chicago Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Shannon Grogan's "From Where I Watch You"

Shannon Grogan is a 2nd grade teacher who writes at night, and at Starbucks or the library while her kids are at ballet and baseball, in a tiny logging town east of Seattle, WA. She holds degrees in education and graphic design/illustration. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she likes baking (gluten-free), shopping at Target, losing to her kids at Skip Bo or Apples to Apples, camping, or wishing she was on a beach. But usually she’s reading, or watching scary movies like Jaws, or reality TV like Cake Boss or Long Island Medium.

Here Grogan shares some ideas about adapting her new YA thriller, From Where I Watch You, for the big screen:
This is easy. If they made my book into a film, I'd love two totally unknown actors to play the lead roles. I definitely have a visual image for my characters, and they don’t look like anyone I know or have seen in real life. Well, except Charlie—he has hair like Josh Duhamel.

I think Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, if they were younger, could play the characters, but they kind of have a famous movie together. (The Notebook!)

As for directors, David Lynch (Twin Peaks). We were born in the same town, Missoula, Montana, so, you know…

Of course if he were still around, Alfred Hitchcock. A girl can dream, can’t she?
Visit Shannon Grogan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 24, 2015

Nicole Galland's "Stepdog"

Nicole Galland's novels include The Fool's Tale; Revenge of the Rose; Crossed; I, Iago; and Godiva. She is married to actor Billy Meleady and owns Leuco, a dog of splendid qualities.

Here Galland dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Stepdog:
Well naturally, I think my own dog (who inspired the novel) should play the title role of the Stepdog, Cody, even though she’s the wrong breed, because she is the sweetest, gentlest, best-behaved, smartest, most photogenic dog in the world. Not that I’m biased.

The story is a sort of romantic bow-tie between the narrator (an Irish actor/musician), his bride, her dog and her ex. A frequent and very flattering comment I’ve been hearing from folks about Stepdog is that there is something Nick-Hornby-ish in the tone of the book, which thrills me as I’m a big Hornby fan. Since the movie About A Boy is my favorite adaptation of anything in the Hornby canon, I’d opt for its directors, the Weitz brothers, to direct Stepdog.

I’m going to skip commenting on how I would cast the antagonist, since describing his appearance would be a spoiler alert for the reader.

That leaves the male and female leads. In my mind’s eye Sara, the love interest and dog-owner, looks a lot like the French actress Audrey Tautou, but with an energy more like Jennifer Garner’s. Because the premise of Stepdog is autobiographical, this character is ‘based on’ me, and I have a hard time imagining myself on film (part of why I gave up acting).

I blush to disclose that my ideal actor to play Rory is…wait for it… a cartoon character. Walt Disney has an animated version of Robin Hood, and as a child, oh my goodness, I had such a huge crush on the red fox playing Robin Hood. If one could make him Irish instead of English, and replace the archery bow with a fiddle bow…sigh…oh, yeah… that’s my hero!
Visit Nicole Galland's website.

The Page 69 Test: Stepdog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Douglas Corleone's "Gone Cold"

Douglas Corleone is the author of contemporary crime novels and international thrillers. His debut novel One Man's Paradise was a finalist for the 2010 Shamus Award for Best First Novel and won the 2009 Minotaur Books / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award.

Corleone’s highly acclaimed international thriller Good As Gone introduced former U.S. Marshal Simon Fisk, and was followed by Payoff, which Booklist called “a lean, mean, pedal-to-the-metal thriller.”

Here Corleone dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Gone Cold:
Remember Jaguar’s 2014 Super Bowl ad featuring “British villains” Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston, and Mark Strong? That’s the tone I wanted to set for Gone Cold, the third international thriller to feature former US Marshal Simon Fisk. In Gone Cold, Simon returns to his birthplace, the United Kingdom, to discover what happened to his daughter Hailey, who was abducted twelve years earlier from the Fisk family home in Washington, DC. As mentioned in a previous MBTM blog post, my Simon Fisk is dream-played by action star Jason Statham.

Simon’s father, who makes his first on-page appearance in Gone Cold, would be played by Sir Ben Kingsley, while Terence Stamp, Clive Owen, Daniel Craig, Ewan McGregor, and Elizabeth Hurley round out the cast. Are British villains cooler than American villains? I don’t know about real life, but in fiction, you bet. And as James Bond and Simon Fisk prove, their good guys can be pretty badass too.
Learn more about the book and author at Douglas Corleone's website.

The Page 69 Test: Good as Gone.

My Book, The Movie: Payoff.

The Page 69 Test: Gone Cold.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 21, 2015

Stephen Emond's "Bright Lights, Dark Nights"

Stephen Emond is the creator of the Emo Boy comic series, two illustrated young adult novels, Happyface and Winter Town, and Steverino, a comic strip that ran in his local Connecticut newspaper.

Here Emond shares some ideas about casting an adaptation of his new novel, Bright Lights, Dark Nights:
Casting a movie for Bright Lights would be so difficult! I’m drawing a blank on who could play Walter. It feels like there’s a definite “type” for the white, awkward male lead. Freddie Highmore, Logan Lerman, etc. There was a guy, Jack Carpenter that we talked to when working on an Emo Boy movie that would be good if he isn’t too old. Maybe even Nick Jonas? For Naomi, I see people on TV all the time that would fit but I can’t think of their names! Vanessa Morgan is one. There’s a singer named Justine Skye that would be great. A young Nia Long or Janet Jackson? Jason Mills I did picture someone for, the rapper Tyler the Creator. Likewise I imagined Dean Norris (“Uncle Hank” from Breaking Bad) when I wrote Walter’s father. For Lester, maybe John Boyega, soon to be of Star Wars fame?

For the soundtrack, I’d go for a combo of Jon Brion, Tyler the Creator, and Babyface.
Visit Stephen Emond's website.

The Page 69 Test: Bright Lights, Dark Nights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bill Crider's "Between the Living and the Dead"

Bill Crider is the winner of two Anthony Awards and an Edgar Award finalist. An English college professor for many years, he’s published more than seventy-five crime, Western, and horror novels, as well as a number of children’s books.

Here Crider shares some ideas for casting an adaptation of his latest novel, Between the Living and the Dead:
Between the Living and the Dead is the 22nd book in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, and over the years I’ve fantasized about which actors I’d like to see play the sheriff. For a while I had James Garner in mind, but time went by and Garner aged and died. Then I thought about Tom Selleck, but he’s doing a couple of TV series and probably wouldn’t be available. Besides, the sheriff doesn’t have a mustache. At the moment, my choice is Dennis Quaid. He’s about the right age, and he has the right look. Also, he’s a Texan and wouldn’t have any problem with the accent. As for Seepy Benton, who’s starting to insist that he’s the real hero of the books, I’m thinking Patton Oswalt, although Seepy is holding out for Ryan Gosling or Chris Pratt.
Learn more about the book and author at Bill Crider's website and blog.

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder, Murder Among the OWLS, Of All Sad Words, Murder in Four Parts, Murder in the Air, The Wild Hog Murders, Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen, Compound Murder, and Half in Love with Artful Death.

The Page 69 Test: Between the Living and the Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 17, 2015

Jonathan Freedland's "The 3rd Woman"

Jonathan Freedland is an award-winning journalist, a number one bestselling author, and a broadcaster. He is the Guardian's executive editor for Opinion and also writes a weekly column. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times and the New York Review of Books, and presents BBC Radio 4's contemporary history series The Long View. In 2014 he won the Orwell special prize for journalism.

Here Freedland dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, The 3rd Woman:
Of course, I would say this – but I reckon any director would love to be handed the task of turning The 3rd Woman into a movie. I’d like to think that’s because it's a gripping story full of twists and turns, with a compelling central character. But, if I'm honest, what would surely prove irresistible to a moviemaker is something much more straightforward: the setting.

The 3rd Woman is set in a Los Angeles – and an America – that is a lot like today’s, but with a crucial difference. This America is getting used to the fact that it is no longer number one on the planet, having lost its place as the global superpower to China. In this LA, the slang, the food, the calendar, even the air people breathe is different. There are Mao-themed restaurants. Everyone covers their faces to keep out the smog. In late January, red lanterns hang from the trees to mark the Chinese new year. And looming over the city is a vast, secretive Chinese military base.

I suspect an imaginative director – whether Ridley Scott or Danny Boyle – could have great fun creating this new, subtly different LA. They needn’t go full Bladerunner. At first glance this city would look like the Los Angeles we all know. Only on closer inspection would it reveal itself as ever so slightly changed - if not warped.

What about the cast? At the centre of The 3rd Woman is Madison Webb, a dogged investigative reporter whose skill in the professional realm is matched only by the chaos in the personal one. She’s a brilliant and resourceful journalist, but a pretty hopeless girlfriend, daughter and sister. She’s also a chronic insomniac, kept awake by something she – and we – don’t quite understand (not at first, anyway). When her own younger sister, Abigail, is suddenly found dead, apparently from a drug overdose, Maddy refuses to accept the official version spun by the police and the city authorities. She deploys all her talent and persistence to get to the truth.

I would love to see Jessica Chastain in this role, though technically she’s a little older than Maddy who’s just turned 30. She conveys the intelligence, the inner strength, that I think define Madison. Younger, and also plausible, would be Emma Stone.

For Quincy Webb, Maddy’s older, bossy sister, I can see Jennifer Garner doing it – especially alongside Chastain. (The two women could pass for sisters.) And Alicia Vikander would be magnificent as the ghostly presence of murdered Abigail in any flashback scenes.

As for the Webb mother, an important part, Julianne Moore is surely too young (though the right colouring to be related to Chastain.) A cameo for Meryl Streep, perhaps?

Leo Harris is Madison’s ex-boyfriend and the political magician who serves as aide to the LA mayor seeking to become governor of California. Jake Gyllenhaal looks the part and could carry off that coolly cynical exterior. But Michael Fassbender would be intriguing too.

The mayor himself – cunning and charismatic – would be a meaty role for John Slattery, whose silvery mischief was such a delight as Mad Men's Roger Sterling.

Now that I think about it, I can almost see this movie already. Can someone get Mr Scott on the phone?
Visit Jonathan Freedland's website.

--Marshal Zeringue