Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chris Knopf's "Short Squeeze"

Chris Knopf is author of the Sam Acquillo Hamptons Mystery series, including The Last Refuge, Two Time, Head Wounds, and Hard Stop, which won the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Mystery. A copywriter by trade, Knopf is a principal of Mintz & Hoke Communications Group. He lives with his wife, Mary, and dog, Samuel Beckett, in Avon, Connecticut, and Southampton, New York, where he sets sail on the sacred Little Peconic Bay.

His new novel is Short Squeeze.

Here he sketches out some casting choices as well as options for director for an adaptation of the new book:
When I did the casting for the film version of my book Two Time a few years ago, I made what some thought was a bold decision to give the part of Jackie Swaitkowski, in a crucial supporting role, to Drew Barrymore. Well, now that Jackie has a series of her own, beginning with Short Squeeze (St.Martin’s, Jan 2010), I feel even better about that choice. While Drew continues to exercise her significant comedic abilities, she also proved her depth and versatility when she played Edith Bouvier Beale in Grey Gardens. Jackie is impetuous on the verge of reckless, intelligent, pig-headed, but occasionally stricken with a loss of confidence, a perennial wise-cracker, but sometimes overwhelmed by tender sentiment, tomboyish but eager to be a girl in the right circumstances, not so great at commitment, but deeply fond of certain nut job friends, a quirky dresser and all-out slob of a housekeeper. And uncontrollably curious and determined when on the hunt of a killer. Doesn’t that sound like a woman played by Drew Barrymore?

Her boyfriend Harry Goodlander, the 6’ 8” bald logistics expert, looks like Harlan Coben only much taller. Harlan’s a writer, not an actor, so we’d have to get Tim Robbins, who’s 6’5”, to shave his head and put lifts in his shoes.

Since Richard Gere is often seen around the Hamptons, I think he’d make a fine Sam Acquillo. (He played Clifford Irving in The Hoax, based on a book published by The Permanent Press, who also publishes the Sam Acquillo series.) He’s a bit older, but still ruggedly handsome, intelligent and capable of both comedic and tragic turns, which would suit Sam.

Ross Semple, the over-educated, oddball police chief would be played to perfection by Kevin Spacey. We’d just need wardrobe to get him a pair of thick black-framed glasses and a polyester shirt.

Jim Belushi has Detective Joe Sullivan written all over him. Except for the hair. Sullivan has a blond crew cut. We’d have to get make-up in on the screen test, but I’m sure Jim would do what it takes to land such a sought-after part. Jackie and Joe have a mutual love-want-to-kill relationship. Comic, irritated, long-suffering. Belushi and Drew could riff on that all day.

As far as the less pleasant characters go, Rainn Wilson is Fuzzy Wolsonowicz, no question. He’s got it all – creepy facial hair, twitchy face, haunted eyes.

His adopted mother, Eunice, is Helen Mirren. Haughty, whippet thin, cagey, slightly regal (hey, she played Queen Elizabeth…) You can easily see her deep disappointment when contemplating Rainn, her adopted son.

We don’t get to see much of him, but the part of Sergey Pontecello, the Russo-Italian tin-plated European nobleman and soon-to-be mangled corpse was actually written with David Strathairn playing Pierce Patchett in L.A. Confidential in my mind’s eye. Just age him a bit and add the accent. (I wonder how David would react to my writing that a cartoonist would draw Sergey’s face as a rat.)

Who directs? I’d love to have Mike Nichols, who did such a great job on Charlie Wilson’s War. He’s about 79 years old at this point, but Clint Eastwood, also 79, has proven age is hardly a barrier to directorial excellence. At this writing, I don’t know if Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for best picture. If not, I think we can afford her (somebody call New York).
Visit Chris Knopf's website.

My Book, The Movie: Two Time.

--Marshal Zeringue