Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chris Knopf's "Two Time"

Chris Knopf is the author of two Sam Acquillo Hamptons mysteries, The Last Refuge and Two Time.

He took Two Time through the "My Book, The Movie" exercise and came up with this take for a film adaptation:
Now that Dreamworks has greenlighted Marshal's script for Two Time, I guess we have to think casting.

Sam Acquillo is perfect for Sean Penn. Sam's in his early 50's - older than Sean, but not by much, and by the time this gets through development he'll be much closer, right? Plus, it's much more impressive for an actor to stretch a little older than go younger. Sam's a physically vital 50's, who likes to stay in shape, notwithstanding a tendency to smoke and drink too much.

He's not a classically handsome guy, but women go for him. He's got a big, busted up nose and curly gray hair. He's an ex-pro boxer. He has an inner rage that manifests itself in a calm and disciplined outward demeanor, until the provocation gets to be too much. In fact, anger management and eruptions of violence are two of Sam's livelier qualities. Think Viggo Mortensen in A History of Violence.

Sam's very intelligent and well educated. He's had a successful corporate career as a design engineer, which he blew up. Along with his home life. So there's loads of inherent tragedy in his situation, well leavened by a cynical, mordant wit.

He's trying to achieve a rapprochement with his grown daughter, whom he loves unconditionally. More fodder for dramatic expression.

In the Sam Acquillo books, all the action takes place in the Hamptons, though mostly the Hamptons few know about. You get to flash on the glitterati, but the action is on the back roads, working class neighborhoods and dive bars. I think Sean is one of very few actors who'd be able to keep all this in balance, without tipping into cliché, using the various contradictory elements to good dramatic and comic effect.

For his principle love interest, Amanda Anselma, I'd want to cast Annabella Sciorra, with her Italian beauty, underlying sexuality and gift for tragedy. (Though in my mind's eye I admit Amanda sort of looks like Anne Archer at about forty with a really nice tan.)

With some thicker, redder hair, freckles and both her comic and tragic personas in full force, Drew Barrymore would make a great Jackie Swaitkowski.

If Rick Schroder would agree to add about fifty pounds, he'd be great as Joe Sullivan. Orlando Bloom would also have the chance of a lifetime to play slightly older as Burton Lewis. (As would Jude Law if Orlando was busy.) Bob Hoskins would own Paul Hodges and Christina Ricci could play his daughter Dotty in her sleep.

Ben Affleck, an underrated actor, could project the complex, high-energy, self-absorbed, yet slightly sinister nature of Butch Ellington. It would be interesting to see him play against Rosie O'Donnell as Butch's wife Dione. Parker Posey will have to play Appolonia Eldridge, that's obvious.

I think I've busted the casting budget, but could someone see if Jim Carrey's available for a cameo as Ross Semple? I think his body-of-work would benefit from another dramatic part, but Ross would also give him a chance to show flashes of inner lunacy.

As far as directors, Sean Penn said Clint Eastwood was "the least disappointing icon I ever met." With that sort of endorsement, maybe they'd like to team up again. If not, Paul Thomas Anderson or David Cronenberg are skillful with tense, intimate interplay, have a nice sense of place and pull highly credible and distinctive dialogue out of their actors.
Visit Chris Knopf's website to learn more about the Sam Acquillo Hamptons mysteries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 24, 2007

Nathan Walpow's "The Manipulated"

Nathan Walpow is the author of The Manipulated, the latest of his four "Joe Portugal" mysteries.

Joe Portugal in the movies? Why not? Here's who his creator sees populating the adapted films:
I've thought about casting my protagonist, Joe Portugal, a TV commercial actor who keeps stumbling over dead bodies, pretty much since the first book came out in 1999. Never came up with anyone I've been truly happy with. A few years ago I started considering Hank Azaria (who I was in a comedy improv class with a couple of decades ago). He'd be good, but seeing him doesn't quite make me jump up and say, "Hey, that's Joe." Another name that's come to mind lately is Steve Carell. I've seen him in a couple of movies, and I think he'd work nicely, but again I don't experience the that's-Joe moment. I watch The Daily Show every day, and Jon Stewart would be right physically; he's got the comedy chops, but I'm not sure about the more serious stuff. Finally, give him a few more years, and I'd consider John Cusack, who I think is vastly underrated.

For Gina Vela, who starts out as Joe's best friend and by the fourth book is his wife, I would love to see Vanessa Marcil, who I've been watching on Las Vegas. She's a little young for the part, but I don't care. She got the right blend of smarts, cynicism, and hotness. I'd also be happy with Laura San Giacomo. And, of course, if someone insisted on casting Salma Hayek, I wouldn't argue.

For Joe's father, Harold The Horse Portugal, we've got to have Alan Arkin. For Alberta Burns, the homicide detective who becomes Joe's friend, I'd like April Grace, who I first saw on Joan of Arcadia. For Eugene Rand, Joe's not-quite-ready-for-social-interaction friend, I'd like Todd Louiso, who was so good in High Fidelity. For Ronnie McKenzie, Joe's next-door-neighbor and protege ... well, hell, we might as well have Scarlett Johansson. And for John Santini, who only showed up in The Manipulated, the most recent book -- but will be a big part of future ones -- I'd like Jon Polito, who's been in a bunch of Coen Brothers movies (not that I'm a big fan of Coen Brothers movies).
Read an excerpt from The Manipulated and learn more about Nathan Walpow and his books and short stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sam Reaves's "Homicide 69"

Sam Reaves was raised in small Midwestern towns but has lived in Chicago or its environs for most of his life. He was president of the Midwest Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America from 2001 to 2003. He has published eight novels prior to Homicide 69, five as Sam Reaves and three as Dominic Martell.

Here he takes Homicide 69 through the "My Book, The Movie" exercise:
I’d be lying if I said I never thought about it, though the literary purist in me wants to resist seeing things in Hollywood terms. I definitely do not have actors in mind when I write the book; the characters in my mind’s eye are creations out of whole cloth. It’s when the book is finished that the thoughts start to sneak in: the dream of a movie sale, the idle pastime of wondering who might play the roles. Maybe a Russell Crowe type of look....

In all honesty, I’m handicapped by my relative lack of familiarity with Hollywood actors. I don’t watch a whole lot of movies, and I can’t always put a name to a face I recall. Russell Crowe I can identify, but I don’t think there’s a role for him in Homicide 69, my latest novel, which tracks a Chicago homicide dick through the turbulent summer of 1969. So who do we go with?

Mike Dooley is middle-aged and starting to get worn down by the job, a man who in his youth spent three long years out in the Pacific fighting the Japanese and has twenty hard years on the job. I can see him clearly: a sturdy, athletic man (he played a year of minor league baseball in that last idyllic summer before the war) a shade over six feet tall, broad in the shoulders and steady on his feet, starting to thicken a little around the waist but still a formidable opponent in a fight. The hair is going gray at the temples and the eyes have a bit of a heavy-lidded, hooded look; they’ve seen it all. Dooley is a man with a mission in a department with too many cops for sale. “My job is to catch killers, and I don’t expect anything for it but a paycheck,” he says.

There are probably a lot of actors who could do a jaded homicide dick to perfection, so let’s narrow the field a little. Homicide 69 is a Chicago book, deeply rooted in the city’s history and culture, and it deserves Chicago actors. Nothing steams me like movies supposedly set in Chicago in which all the actors sound as if they’re from New York. If Homicide 69 gets to the big screen, I want to see Chicago guys up there. And let’s start with the director: I can’t think of anyone better to make this film than Michael Mann, the Chicago guy who made Thief and Crime Story. Mann grew up in sixties Chicago and is eminently qualified to put a credible version of it on the screen.

As for Dooley, I run through the list of actors I know, and another Chicago guy pops up, not least because he’s worked with Michael Mann: William Petersen. He’s about the right age and has about the right persona. He’s got the look, the presence, the gravitas and the attitude. He could capture Dooley’s stubborn integrity in a corrupt world.

Finally, there would be a bit part late in the film for a man who really was a Chicago cop during the summer of 1969. While researching the book I came across a small item in the Chicago Tribune that referred to an arrest made by “policeman Dennis Farina.”

I’m not going to tell you what part Farina would play, because it would be a spoiler. When you read the book you’ll see it.

Homicide 69 is all about Chicago, and only Chicago guys can do it justice on the screen.
Visit Sam Reaves's website and his blog.

Read an excerpt from Homicide 69 and see how the Page 69 Test served the novel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vicki Lane's "Elizabeth Goodweather" books

Vicki Lane is the author of three "Elizabeth Goodweather" novels with a fourth on the way in the coming year.

Here she runs the novels through the "My Book, The Movie" exercise:
Who could play the leading roles in a movie made from my book? Who might direct?

Jeez, Marshal asks the hardest questions.

Okay, I’m thinking a trilogy with my first three books and I’ll ask the Coen Bros. to direct simply because a.) I adore them and b.) if they can do a movie around a pregnant sheriff from a small town in Minnesota, a fifty-something Appalachian widow with a law enforcement significant other ought not to be too much of a stretch for those boys.

There are only two of my characters in the current three books that I’ve actually visualized as looking like actors. Phillip Hawkins, the burly, balding ex-detective friend/love interest of my protagonist Elizabeth Goodweather, is described as looking “like Danny DeVito, but tall.”

The other is Aidan, a performance artist in Art’s Blood, of whom an onlooker drools, “that blond boy ... quite delicious. Just like that gorgeous elf in the Lord of the Rings films.” That, of course, would be Orlando Bloom.

But I think Maggie Smith could do justice to Lily Gordon, the aristocratic dowager with a secret in Art’s Blood and Anne Hathaway (Becoming Jane) looks just right for Rosemary, Elizabeth’s older daughter who takes a major role in Old Wounds.

And that was as far as I could go. So I turned to my friend Gretchen who lives in Hollywood and knows about this stuff. Her (abridged) list for Signs in the Blood is below with my comments in italics.

Elizabeth: needs to be tall and not beautiful – handsome would be nearer the mark. And she’s in her fifties and looks it. Though this may never happen in Hollywood.

Penelope Ann Miller (perfect look, nice voice)

Vanessa Redgrave (needs no explanation)

Susan Sarandon (empathetic; great-looking)

Little Sylvie: an Appalachian Botticelli

Dakota Fanning (right age, right look, freakishly believable in every part she plays)

Amanda Bynes (might get the young people into the movie theater)

Laurel: very tall, red dreadlocks

Maggie Gyllenhaal (great, offbeat look; could enhance the character's humorous side)

Milla Jovovich (can look believable when she's not covered in make-up, plus she'd also look great with dreadlocks)

Hawkins: since Danny DeVito’s too short, we have to look elsewhere

Jeff Daniels (affability also makes him instantly suspicious)

Robert Patrick (a face that practically screams, "I've got secrets!")

Don Johnson (stunt casting!)

Sam Neill (will make it easy to cast Elizabeth because every gal in town will want to co-star with him)

Dennis Quaid (looks right for the part and needs work

Robert Duvall (dream on)

Ed Harris (Robert Duvall, only younger)

James Garner (probably too old, but audience would root for him)

Treat Williams (looks right for the part; good actor)

Gene Hackman (probably too old, but he'd be great just because he's Gene Hackman)

Bruce Greenwood (my personal frontrunner; great-looking, believable, perfect)

Creepy but Sexy Snake Preacher: old bedroom eyes

Keith Carradine (too perfect to explain)

Jon Voight (an ugly, intense guy with buckets of sexual charisma) hey! Harice the preacher’s meant to be handsome!

Mark Harmon (has played Ted Bundy)

Lance Henriksen (great-looking, but believable as a pushy mountain preacher)

Creepy but Creepy Daughter-Raping Preacher: tall, thin, intense pale eyes

William Forsythe (gives me the willies just thinking about it)

Harry Dean Stanton (too easy)

Randy Quaid (looks crazy; can really convey evil when he wants to)

David Carradine (already extremely creepy; can squint like nobody's business)

Bill Nighy (take away that British accent and he would look right at home screwing his daughter and hearing voices)

Thanks, Gretchen....
Read more about the "Elizabeth Goodweather" books at Vicki Lane's website and her blog.

The Page 69 Test: Art's Blood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cheryl Kaye Tardif's "Whale Song"

Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a bestselling Canadian author.

Here she speculates about which actors might best portray her characters in a film adaptation of her latest novel, Whale Song, and what music might appear on the soundtrack:
I was quite excited when I realized that I would have a chance to dream a bit here, to discuss a movie version of my novel Whale Song, a novel that is haunting, compelling, mysterious and emotional. Great components for a feature film!

As I wrote the novel back in 2003, I could see the story roll across my inner vision, frame by frame, like a movie on slow motion. I saw the main character ‘Sarah’, who begins the story in the prologue as a mid-twenties ad exec. She then flashes back to her life as a child. In 2003, I imagined the younger Sarah being played by actress Mackenzie Rosman from TV’s 7th Heaven fame. Mackenzie has Sarah’s dark (Italian?) looks and tenacious spirit. But we’d need a younger actress to play Sarah now.

I also had a clear picture of who would play the adult Sarah. Kristin Kreuk, ‘Lana’ from the popular TV show Smallville. Again, she has the darker coloring, and I think she’s a wonderful actress who knows how to pull off emotional scenes. More recently, I came across a young woman who also makes me think of Sarah. I’m a Canadian Idol addict and last season’s winner, Eva Avila, was my personal favorite from day one. I’ve been emailing Eva, and she is actually reading Whale Song right now. In one of my emails I mentioned that she would make a perfect ‘Sarah’, and she commented back that she was actually looking to get into acting. The more I think about it, the more I think Whale Song would be a perfect role for Eva.

For Adam, Sarah’s love interest, I always visualized Nathaniel Arcand as the adult Adam. Nathaniel is from North of 60 fame and has starred in numerous TV shows and films. But again, some years have passed now. I created the younger Adam somewhat around Zac Efron, the teen actor who played in TV’s Summerland, and more recently in Hairspray. I think Eva Avila and Zac Efron would make an intriguing combination.

Whale Song has captured a lot of film interest. Currently, it is in the hands of numerous film producers, including some major players from Hollywood and one of Canada’s leading female producers. I know that the project has to be right for a producer; they have to envision it too.

I know in my blood that Whale Song will make a great film. I know there won’t be many dry eyes at the end. I can imagine the movie score filled with Eva Avila tunes, along with music by my other talented friends — Alexia Melnychuk (singer) and Julie Blue (film composer). Whale Song is a movie waiting to happen. And I am waiting patiently for the right time, right producer.

So until the movie is made, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Whale Song, a haunting and compelling novel that will change the way you view life … and death. A portion of my royalties from Whale Song goes to 3 organizations to help combat poverty, homelessness and addictions.

During my virtual book tour I am giving away some books at specific stops. This is one of them! The first email I receive on August 12th that correctly identifies the publisher of Whale Song (2007) will win a copy of Whale Song. Email the answer to

Thank you and I hope you will visit my website and sign my guestbook.
Read an excerpt from Whale Song and visit Cheryl Kaye Tardif's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 10, 2007

Karen E. Olson's "Annie Seymour" mysteries

Karen E. Olson writes the Annie Seymour mystery series: Sacred Cows, Secondhand Smoke, and the upcoming Dead of the Day. Annie Seymour is a crime reporter in New Haven, Connecticut.

Here Olson speculates about which actors might best portray her characters in a film adaptation of the novels:
When the character of Annie Seymour popped into my head, she was tough, sarcastic and funny and litters her sentences with four-letter words. She is like a lot of newspaper reporters and editors I’ve met through my 20-year career. But I have never actually “seen” her in my head and never describe her physically except that she has wild hair and thinks she’s taller than she is.

Because of that, I never pictured one particular actress, since I would cast less on physical appearance and more on how the actress could capture Annie’s personality. I’ve thought Parker Posey would probably be the best bet. She’s portrayed a variety of characters, so the audience wouldn’t have any expectations one way or the other.

Vinny DeLucia, the private eye who catches Annie’s eye, is described as looking remarkably like a young Frank Sinatra. However, if the movie were to be made today, I’d choose Dominic West. For Detective Tom Behr, I see Daniel Craig.

Any director who tackles Annie’s story would have to know a newsroom. There are so few journalism movies that capture what working at a newspaper is really like. The Paper with Michael Keaton did that pretty well, and a great older movie –30 with Jack Webb is good, too. I’d love to see David Simon as director and writer, because he’s been in the trenches and produces such great work.

And the soundtrack? Definitely the Rolling Stones. Early Stones. It’s all Annie listens to.
Visit Karen E. Olson's website to learn more about her and her books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Michael Kun's "The Locklear Letters"

Michael Kun is the author of several books, including Corrections to My Memoirs (to which he applied the Page 69 Test) and The Locklear Letters.

Here's the author on a film adaption of The Locklear Letters:
The Locklear Letters, in a nutshell, is the story of a computer salesman named Sid Straw, who lives in Baltimore. Sid sends a letter to his college classmate, Heather Locklear, the star of Melrose Place, Spin City and a number of other television series, requesting an autographed photo for his brother. Unfortunately, Sid's request leads to more and more letters that have a terrible effect upon his job, his relationships and his mental health.

We sold the film option on the book several years ago, and I have heard different things at different times about what might happen with it. At this stage, God only knows whether it will ever be made into a movie. Maybe it will, and kids everywhere will be playing with Sid Straw and Heather Locklear action figures! Perhaps more likely, it will never be turned into a film. And those Sid Straw and Heather Locklear action figures I made in the garage will collect dust.

Candidly, I did not think of the book ever being turned into a movie as I was writing it -- it did not occur to me at the time that an epistolary novel might translate well into a movie -- so I did not picture anyone as Sid Straw or any other character while writing the book. Since selling the option, I have heard a number of actors mentioned to possibly play Sid Straw. Will Farrell, Ben Stiller and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are the ones that I heard most often. Oh, and John C. Reilly. I'm sure all would be excellent, though the movie would be considerably different depending upon which of them played the role. I've also heard that it might be made as a small, independent film using a relatively unknown actor. That's fine by me, too. Although they probably wouldn't make action figures if that were the case, would they? Damn!

As for who would play the part of Heather Locklear, who makes a brief appearance in the book and presumably would make a brief appearance in the movie as well, I would think that Diane Lane or Sandra Bullock would be perfect. Or Catherine Zeta-Jones. Seriously, though, if they ever do make a movie of the book, I imagine Ms. Locklear would have considerable leverage in negotiating her price to appear in it. I hope she gets every penny she can.

By the way, I'm joking about the action figures.

At least as far as you know.
Read more about The Locklear Letters and Michael Kun's other work at his website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Christa Faust's "Hoodtown"

Christa Faust's books include tie-in novels and novelizations of Snakes on a Plane and other movies, and the novels Control Freak, Triads, Hoodtown, and Money Shot (forthcoming in 2008 from Hard Case Crime).

Here she explains why an adaptation of Hoodtown is unlikely, yet nevertheless explores some ideas for the talent:
Hoodtown is the story of a washed up female masked wrestler who dishes out vigilante justice. The novel is set in a tough urban ghetto of "hoods" who remain masked at all times. It's classic hardboiled pulp crossed with the vintage lucha heroes of 1960's Mexican cinema.

I've always considered Hoodtown to be essentially unfilmable by current Hollywood standards. It's very visual and would make a great independent film, but there are just too many deal breakers to attract any big name talent.

For starters you have X, the heroine, whose face would be completely covered for the entire movie. No star is going to agree to play a role like that. Then there's the fact that X is over 40 and over 200lbs but still fit and strong, able to hold her own against a male opponent in her own weight class. Not only are all Hollywood actresses required to weigh less than a feather, women who are over 40 must fight their age tooth and nail. There are no female Clint Eastwoods. No tough-as-nails, weathered and hardboiled women who are still sexy and charismatic. I wouldn't want some plastic, nerve-dead mannequin trying to look half her age. I'd want to see crow's feet. I just don't think that woman exists in Hollywood. Bottom line, X would have to be played by an unknown, a very powerful actress capable of conveying strong emotions using only her eyes.

As for the other characters in the story, I'd love to cast Ernie Reyes Jr. as Jaguar and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Malasuerte. Just for fun, I'd cast Dita Von Teese as the burlesque dancer Golden Swan. Of course, you wouldn't see any of their faces either. The only characters whose faces you'd see would be Joe Cray, the "skin" cop and Black Eagle, the turncoat villain. Maybe I could throw the studio bean counters a bone by casting bigger names in those roles. How about Will Smith and Brad Pitt? Though if I had it my way, I'd prefer Laurence Mason for Cray and Willem Defoe for Black Eagle.

Álex de la Iglesia (Acción Mutante, El Día de la Bestia), Guillermo Del Toro (Devil's Backbone, Hellboy), or Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, Sin City) would be my top three choices for director.

Soundtrack would be provided by Los Straight Jackets.

That's my perfect world. In the real world, X would be played by Carmen Electra and she'd have her hood off before the end of the first act.
Visit Christa Faust's website and her blog to learn more about her work.

--Marshal Zeringue