Friday, May 2, 2008

Leslie Schnur's "Late Night Talking"

Leslie Schnur is the author of The Dog Walker and, new in paperback this month, Late Night Talking.

Here she develops some ideas about the cast and director should Late Night Talking be adapted for the big screen:
My most recent book, Late Night Talking, is about a late night radio talk show host who vents with her listeners about the everyday aggravations of modern life, from rude cell phone users and poor gym etiquette, to bad drivers and people who don’t clean up after their dogs. Jeannie Sterling is passionate about making the world a better place, one annoying person at a time.

Jeannie is me.

Or I am she.

Except I spend my days writing books and am usually too intimidated to ask someone to get off her cell phone in a restaurant or wipe his sweat off the bike at the gym.

Jeannie gets into some trouble with her best friend, Luce, who is also me, and has poignant memories of her mother, long dead, who is also me. Except for the dead part.

When I write, I imagine the actors who could play the roles. But since all the female characters are me, this is very difficult and depends on how much chocolate I ate the night before and how I feel about the writing I’ve done that day, or whether it is a big budget production or an indie. Should Jeannie be played by Reese Witherspoon or Catherine Keener? Should Luce be played by Emily Blunt or Joan Cusack? And the mom: is she Meryl Streep, Frances McDormand, or that woman in the Paxil commercials?

The point is that I have a very difficult time casting myself. So the female characters are open to interpretation and, actually, to anybody interested. Reese Witherspoon optioned my first novel, The Dog Walker, and would’ve been perfect for the snooping, ethically-challenged protagonist, if only … well, you know Hollywood, if only everything.

But the men. Now that’s a different story. I like to imagine the actors who would play the men in my books. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s because if the protagonist is me and the male lead is, say, Clive Owen, why, that is me making out with him!

Late Night Talking
was written for one person and one person only: George Clooney. And I don’t understand why he hasn’t called. I pictured him from page one until the end, as the older, tree-climbing media mogul with a social conscience. I saw him in every scene Jeannie (or I) was in, and was certain he’d snatch the book up for his production company. Anyway, George, if you’re reading this: I’m waiting for you. Although if Clive Owen called, I’d be open.

Jeannie’s father is definitely Paul Newman. He’s not as Jewish as the character in the book, but I just can’t see Jerry Stiller in the role. And Tommy, the sexy, Vespa-riding journalist boyfriend is Matt Damon. (I was you-know-whating Matt Damon long before Sarah Silverman, trust me.) And if Matt’s too busy to play the jilted man, I wouldn’t turn down Bradley Cooper.

Also, for the record, it would be a lot of fun to cast Bruce Willis as Moss, Ashton Kutcher as Tommy and Demi Moore as me, I mean Jeannie. There’s publicity value in that, don’t you think?

The director and screenwriter could be Richard Curtis (Love, Actually, Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral.) But if Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) are looking for work, they might be good too.

As for the book I’m working on now, Everything in Sight, there is a romantic leading role for Javier Bardem or Johnny Depp. But I guess if George Clooney begged me, he could maybe have the job as well. Oh, and Clive Owen too.
Visit Leslie Schnur's website and read an excerpt from Late Night Talking.

Read the "backstory" to Late Night Talking.

The Page 69 Test: Late Night Talking.

--Marshal Zeringue