Thursday, October 15, 2009

Patricia Gussin's "The Test"

Patricia Gussin is a physician who grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and practiced in Philadelphia.

She is also the author of Shadow of Death, Thriller Award nominee for “Best First Novel,” Twisted Justice, and a new thriller, The Test.

Here she shares some suggestions for casting a film adaptation of the new novel:
The Test is a thriller masquerading as a family saga that goes very, very wrong. We start off with a billionaire patriarch. (In the book, he’s already dead, but in the movie…who knows!) Paul Parnell realizes that he’d been too dedicated chasing wealth and fame to imbue in his children the moral value code that he now embraces. Is it too late? Can he rule from the grave? Paul may be dead, but his contemporary, his friend and attorney, is charged with executing a very unusual will. Paul has six children and for them to inherit massive wealth, they must pass a moral value test within one year.

So the will has to be read by this old gentleman, perhaps Alan Alda.

Then we must cast the six children in contention for the inheritance. Here they are in birth order. See the family tree inside the front cover of the book for a complete picture of this complex family.

Dan, in his early forties, a tree farmer, a recluse, not much interested in the money until he’s reunited with his ex wife, a beautiful Latino woman, and his twin son and daughter. Mark Wahlberg or Aaron Eckhart would be a good pick for Dan, and we need a strikingly beautiful woman for his wife, Gina.

Frank, a U.S. senator, a very powerful contender, and his ambitious wife, Meredith, and their so perfect little daughter. The challenges they encounter are deadly. Frank looks a lot like Bobby Kennedy (but he could be played by Brad Pitt), and Meredith is a younger Hillary Clinton.

Rory, an altruistic mother of eight young kids. Her husband, Chan, is a family doctor. All American types, wanting to do the right thing when leukemia strikes Rory. Here we need a very wholesome couple in their late thirties, and what an opportunity for kid actors, eight of them, four girls and four boys.

Monica, this one was unexpected, an out of wedlock daughter, just now making her appearance on the family scene, she’s a superstar vocalist, a version of Céline Dion. This character is a hot, flashy professional, yet a nice person on the inside. She has an attractive sports media husband, a hunk. So here we need a very attractive, media friendly couple.

Ashley, the medical student, a good girl, who falls prey to a psychopathic professor. Ashley takes center stage as a character as she is the focal point that will destroy this family. Although she’s had an ultra privileged life, she’s not a pretentious person. Her character has a deep core of innocence, but still we wonder how such a competent person could fall victim to a terrifying monster. Ashley is the key female lead and would present a wonderful opportunity for a young actress with a rising star.

As for the monster, fifty year old psychiatrist professor, Conrad Welton, could be played by Jack Nicholson, or John Travolta could also fill the bill. Conrad is the evil villain in The Test, although contending family members do have their mean streaks.

Carla, the youngest, a former model, turned drug addict, is a very sympathetic character despite her devastating addiction. Somebody painfully thin and young will be needed here.

The Test takes place in Devon, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, the family estate. Ashley moves about the country to escape Conrad and to provide setting diversity. The final contest climax takes place in Sarasota, Florida, on Longboat Key, not a bad place to film a movie.
Learn more about the book and author at Patricia Gussin's website. Gussin's previous novels include Shadow of Death, Thriller Award nominee for “Best First Novel,” and Twisted Justice.

The Page 69 Test: The Test.

--Marshal Zeringue