Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jenn McKinlay's "Sprinkle With Murder"

Jenn McKinlay-Orf writes mysteries under the names Lucy Lawrence and Jenn McKinlay.

Here she shares some casting ideas for an adaptation of Sprinkle With Murder, the first novel in McKinlay's new series set in a cupcake bakery:
I think a cupcake bakery definitely lends itself to the visual. My three main characters (Melanie, Angie and Tate) happen to be old movie aficionados, and spend their weekends watching old movies together. They are always trying to stump one another with movie quotes. If this book were made into a film, it would be a kick to see the movie maker edit in the original footage of the quote. So, in the midst of a scene, a clip from Some Like It Hot would be spliced into the dialogue. Then again maybe I've just watched too much Mystery Science Theater!

Now as for the casting, you've got Melanie Cooper our main character, who is tall and thin with short blonde hair. She has a wicked sense of humor so it has to be someone who can deliver the joke: Elizabeth Banks seems like a perfect fit. As for her sidekick and best friend, Angie DeLaura, it needs to be someone who can be funny and tough (Angie is known for her firecracker like temper). Physically, she's shorter than Mel and curvier with long dark hair, so I can see Jamie-Lynn Sigler playing a spot on Angie. And finally, there is our male lead, Tate Harper. He is Angie and Mel's childhood friend and the main investor in their bakery, although he has a good sense of humor, he is more the straight man. He has wavy brown hair and all American boy good looks. When I try to picture him, Chris O'Donnell comes to mind.

A director? Hmm. My books are heavily dialogue based. I like the snappy repartee between my characters, which is based on their longtime friendship. A relationship based director, who has a gift for comedy would be perfect. Someone like Amy Heckerling, Nora Ephron, Penny Marshall or from television, Amy Sherman.

Wow, a movie of Sprinkle With Murder! That would be killer (pun intended)!
Learn more about the book and author at Jenn McKinlay's website. She also is a member of the The Mystery Lover's Kitchen group blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 23, 2010

Natasha Friend's "For Keeps"

Natasha Friend is the author of the YA novels Perfect, Bounce, Lush, and the newly released For Keeps.

Here she shares some ideas for casting a big screen adaptation of For Keeps:
The storyline:

For sixteen years, Josie Gardner and her mom, Kate, have been a team. It’s been the Gardner Girls against the world, and that’s how Josie likes it. Until one day, in the pet food aisle of Shop-Co, they run into the parents of Paul Tucci, Kate’s high school boyfriend—the father Josie has never met. If Mr. and Mrs. Tucci are back in town, it’s only a matter of time until Paul shows up. Suddenly Josie’s mature, capable mother regresses to the heartbroken teenager she was when Paul moved away. Meanwhile, Josie’s on the verge of having her first real boyfriend, while her free-lovin’ best friend, Liv, begins yet another no-strings-attached fling. When Josie learns some surprising truths about Paul Tucci, she finds herself questioning what she’s always believed about her parents—and about herself. In For Keeps, Natasha Friend tells a fresh, funny, smart story about what happens when a girl gets the guy she always wanted and the dad she never knew she needed.

The cast:

Josie Gardner: Ellen Page (cast her quick; she won't be able to pull off 16 much longer....)

Kate Gardner: Julie Bowen (riding the wave of her hot/quirky Modern Family momness)

Liv: Mia Wasikowska (aka Alice in Wonderland, who was downright brilliant in the HBO series In Treatment)

Pops and Dodd, Liv’s two dads: Colin Farrell and Neil Patrick Harris (oddly perfect together)

Matt Rigby, Josie’s boyfriend: Zach Gilford (of Friday Night Lights fame)

Paul Tucci: Kyle Shandler (aka Coach Eric Taylor)

Mrs. Tucci: Meryl Streep (if I may be so bold ...)

Mr. Tucci/Big Nick: Alec Baldwin (say no more)
Learn more about the book and author at Natasha Friend's official Facebook page and website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 19, 2010

Carol Snow's "Just Like Me, Only Better"

Carol Snow, a former contributor to Salon.com, lives in California with her family where she writes books for teens as well as for adults.

Here she shares some casting ideas for a film adaptation of her new novel, Just Like Me, Only Better:
Just Like Me, Only Better tells the story of a struggling suburban single mother and substitute teacher (yes, I overdid on the s’s) named Veronica Czaplicki who gets hired to be a celebrity double for an imploding young Hollywood starlet named Haley Rush. In her job, Veronica must deal with Haley’s controlling manager, Jay Sharpie. Fake dates with Haley’s ex, B-list hunk Brady Ellis, sweeten the deal. And so, on to the casting.

Veronica/Haley: Since Veronica and Haley are supposed to look so much alike, one actress could play both roles, but I’ve always found that technique distracting. Parent Trap, anyone? I’d encourage the studio to cast two similar-looking actresses. The studio would completely ignore my advice and do whatever the hell they please.

Publishers Weekly described Haley as a cross between Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus. Kudos to the reviewer: I had both of them in mind when I wrote the book. Lindsay Lohan even has that Parent Trap split-role experience. Of course, there are way too many problems with casting Lohan. No manager in his right mind would let her play a role that emphasized her instability. Even if she did agree to the part, the insurance would be prohibitive. And, c’mon. Do you really think she’d show up?

Miley Cyrus wouldn't work either, at least not now; she’s far too young. Also, she takes herself way too seriously. And she can’t actually, like, act. And so, the role of Veronica and/or Haley goes to … Amanda Bynes (and another actress who looks like Amanda Bynes). She can sing. She can act. She’s got that wholesome girl-next-door thing going on. And even though she’s been in the spotlight so long that she should be on her third stint in rehab (at least), she seems remarkably sane.

Jay Sharpie: Sometimes the most obvious choice is the most effective. I’d give the role of Haley’s manager to Kevin Connolly, the guy who plays Vince Chase’s manager, Eric, on Entourage.

Brady Ellis: How hard can it be to cast a minimally talented pretty boy? Not very. In the first draft of the book, Brady was named Brody. It wasn’t until I came across Brody Jenner in a magazine that I realized my subconscious had already cast him.
Learn more about the book and author at Carol Snow's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Edward M. Lerner's "InterstellarNet: Origins"

For thirty years, Edward M. Lerner toiled in the vineyards of high tech. Then, suitably intoxicated, he began writing science fiction full-time. He writes both near-future, Earth-based techno-thrillers (like Fools’ Experiments and Small Miracles) and -- as with his latest novel, InterstellarNet: Origins -- more traditional spacefaring adventures.

Here he explains some casting challenges for a cinematic adaptation of InterstellarNet: Origins, as well his choice of a couple of stars with significant sci fi credits for the lead roles:
InterstellarNet: Origins, as its cover suggests, starts with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence -- a quest that succeeds. Contemplating I: O as a movie, it’s hard not to think, almost immediately, of the few well-done SETI movies. There’s Contact, starring Jodie Foster as a radio astronomer. There’s The Arrival, starring Charlie Sheen as a radio astronomer. Hmm ... the opening of I: O needs male and female scientist leads. Okay, I can’t help casting Sheen as the hero, Dean Matthews, and Foster as the heroine, Bridget Satterswaithe.

But InterstellarNet: Origins the movie rapidly part ways with those earlier films. Earth stays in contact with the aliens who have reached out across the light-years -- and light speed being a limit, those exchanges last years. Even with our nearest neighbors (native to Alpha Centauri), the round-trip radio delay approaches a decade. And so, the first, tentative message swaps gradually transform into a robust interstellar internet over which information -- science, technology, and culture -- is traded. And so, I: O became a family saga. Dean and Bridget marry, and by the end of the story, their children and grandchildren are the ones immersed in alien plots. What can we say about casting them? Starting from Sheen and Foster, if we know nothing else, we can assume the rest of the clan is very attractive.

Arguably the most interesting characters aren’t human -- nor, exactly, are they alien. The way to circumvent the light-speed limit is to download artificial intelligences, AIs, possessed of delegated authority. But other species’ technologies are potentially incredibly valuable. What is to prevent the aliens’ AIs from becoming victims -- or being criminal masterminds? As archetypes for alien AIs interacting with humans within an ever-expanding network, I can’t help but think of Max Headroom, the Hal 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey), Colossus (The Forbin Project), and SkyNet (The Terminator) – with virtual-reality appearances animated with a bit of Gollum or the Navi from Avatar.
Learn more about the author and his work at his website Edward M. Lerner, perpetrator of science fiction and techno-thrillers, and blog SF and Nonsense.

The Page 99 Test: Small Miracles.

The Page 69 Test: Fools’ Experiments.

The Page 69 Test: InterstellarNet: Origins.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mark Terry's "The Fallen"

Mark Terry is the author of three Derek Stillwater novels, The Devil's Pitchfork, The Serpent's Kiss, and The Fallen, as well as two standalone novels, Dirty Deeds and Dancing in the Dark. In addition, he is the author of Catfish Guru, a collection of mystery novellas, numerous short stories and literally hundreds of magazine and trade journal articles.

Here he shares some guidance for casting a big screen adaptation of his series:
My new book, The Fallen, is the third to feature Homeland Security troubleshooter Dr. Derek Stillwater. He’s a PhD in microbiology and biochemistry, an expert on biological and chemical terrorism, and a former Special Forces bio/chem weapons expert. What sets him apart—I think and am told—from the typical action hero are his neuroses: he’s superstitious, wears a St. Sebastian’s medal, a four-leaf clover, and ju-ju beads. He’s a hypochondriac who believes he’ll end up killed by a chemical or biological weapon. He was raised by missionary physicians in various countries around the world, and he is very, very good at what he does, although he’s not very good at coloring inside the lines. Various critics have compared Derek favorably to Jason Bourne and to 24’s Jack Bauer, which is fair enough.

So who should play him in the film? (And no, no film in the works—yet. But we’ve had many, many nibbles, including from George Clooney’s production company and Will Smith’s production company).

What, Jack Black or Whoopi Goldberg’s not available? Hmmm. Well, I think Clooney would be awesome, even if his action films to-date have been so-so. Will Smith? Yeah, interesting. He could do it. So could Matt Damon or Kiefer Sutherland, although the role would probably overlap just a bit with their own very successful franchises. And frankly, for the first Derek Stillwater novel, The Devil's Pitchfork, I would have loved to see Matt Damon play Derek Stillwater and Ben Affleck play the bad guy terrorist, Richard Coffee (who is also in The Fallen). Or for that matter, vice versa, Affleck as Derek and Damon as the bad guy. We don’t get to see Matt Damon play villains very often.

But if I were suddenly given the chance to cast a Derek Stillwater film and Clooney and Damon and Sutherland weren’t available … my top choice would be Nicolas Cage. Cage did a somewhat similar character in The Rock with Sean Connery, playing FBI expert in biological and chemical weapons Dr. Stanley Goodspeed. Goodspeed had some similar neuroses and vulnerabilities to Derek, although Derek, as an agent and soldier, is significantly more competent. But Cage would be just about right to bring that slightly off-center aspect to life.

Now, about Whoopi Goldberg…
Read chapters 1-6 of The Fallen, and learn more about the book and author at Mark Terry's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Fallen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jenny Gardiner's "Winging It"

Jenny Gardiner is the author of the novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. Her writing has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, the Washington Post, and NPR’s Day to Day, and she has a column of humorous slice-of-life essays that runs in the Charlottesville, VA Daily Progress. Gardiner lives in central Virginia with her husband, three kids, two dogs, one cat, and one gregarious parrot.

Here she explains some casting ideas for a big screen adaptation of her new book, Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me:
Well, it might be a little tricky, what with the parrot in the starring role. That said, Hollywood works magic all the time, so I'm sure it could be done. Besides which, Winging It features my African gray parrot, Graycie, but it's her story intertwined with my family's story, so it's not as if it would be 120 minutes of talking bird.

I haven't given a whole lot of thought to this book in movie form--funny, as I did very much with my first book, the novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. In this one it's more personal, as I'd be casting my family, which seems a bit surreal. If we went by looks, well, hmm, I was told in my skinnier days frequently that I looked like Courtney Thorne-Smith, so that might be useful casting. But personality-wise, I'd have to go with someone more known for their humor. I've always felt an affinity toward Bonnie Hunt--I think she and I are soul-sisters in our approach to life, parenting, humor in general--based of course purely on what I've seen of her in interviews and in movies.

For my husband, it's so hard to say. Maybe he'd like Andrew Shue since they both have strong soccer backgrounds. In his heydey he sort of had that look. Hmmm, how about Colin Firth? He always seems to have that capacity to stretch from character to character, so I could see him playing a dad-type...

For the kids, I have NO idea, but I would ask that they don't pick smarmy child actors. Those are just the worst! I loved how the casting was done for, say, Juno, just normal, down-to-earth. So whoever did the casting for that has my vote.

For that matter, for directing, I'd like someone very down-t0-earth. Penny Marshall maybe? Wait, Ive got it--Nora Ephron. I'D LOVE to be part of anything with which she's affiliated. I think she's so damned talented, so savvy, so funny, and has that capacity for vulnerability that's really important. I'd hand it all over to her and let her have at it!
Watch a video of Gardiner discussing Winging It and another of Graycie performing, and learn more about the book and author at Jenny Gardiner's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Sleeping with Ward Cleaver.

Writers Read: Jenny Gardiner.

The Page 99 Test: Winging It.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Jennifer Stevenson's "Trash Sex Magic"

Jennifer Stevenson is the author of four books that only look like they’re way too much about sex. She is a founding member of Book View Cafe, speed roller skater, swimmer, horsewoman, crow fancier, and messy gardener.

Here she shares some thoughts on casting a big screen adaptation of her acclaimed novel Trash Sex Magic:
Trash Sex Magic, my book--the movie, ooo, I love this question.

I started writing Trash Sex Magic (Small Beer Press) in 1986 while I was on jury duty. The book took eighteen years to become fit to publish, so my ideal cast progressed a lot over that time.

Hero Alexander Caebeau was modeled after a guy I saw in 1986 on the Chicago El, but I didn’t even get his name, let alone a photo. The rapper Obie Trice has the look, as does Lupe Fiasco, but they’d need to put on about a hundred and fifty pounds each. Ditto male model Tyson Beckford. Also, Alexander is just plain blacker than these guys. Sadly, the darker the skin, the less likely you will see a great black male actor in the movies. If I could use a time machine, I’d vote for a young Forest Whitaker, who can carry off the sexy+big thing with the right amount of gentleness.

Originally I had Tommy Lee Jones in mind for King Gowdy, after I saw him in Coal Miner’s Daughter, for his cowlick, his blue-collar air of being nicer than he is smart, and for the way he wears a pair of work boots as if he could waltz in them.

Sissy Spacek was going to be Raedawn Somershoe, the main star and King’s white-trash sex-magician childhood sweetheart. She won this role in my book for her work in 3 Women. The way her personality flipped over in the middle—crazywow. Plus her country girl look and voice. That made me want to cast her in both roles—as Raedawn and as her equally trashy, sexy, magical mother, Gelia Somershoe.

James Earl Jones is my all-time favorite for Ernest Brown, Gelia’s main squeeze. The voice, oy! I could see the tramp Gelia coming back to that voice no matter how far she strayed—to the voice and to his air of quiet authority.

Time passed. Luckily, Raedawn is a younger-looking version of her mother, so now I could bump Sissy up to Gelia's role, much meatier and nastier but equally sexy.

Tommy Lee Jones got muuuch sexier over the next 18 years so I had no problem recasting him as Cracker Coombs, the older man who initiates Raedawn into the softer side of her job as sex priestess to the local yakshi (a tree-shaped god of sexual energy). Patrick Swayze took on King's role, ‘cuz of that broken nose and his afterthought haircut.

I wavered terribly over recasting Rae. I wanted an actress who looks like somebody punched her in the face once upon a time. Courtney Love? Joan Jett? Or if you could imagine Scarlett Johansson with a slightly broken nose. Yeah, Iris has that slut look I need for Rae—sort of “I’m not coming on to you, this is how my face grew—no, just kidding, I really am coming on to you.”
Visit Jennifer Stevenson's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue