Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Doug Magee's "Never Wave Goodbye"

Doug Magee has been a photojournalist, screenplay writer, children’s book author, death penalty activist, film producer and director, war protester, college football player, amateur musician, and the basis of the Aidan Quinn character in Meryl Streep’s Music of the Heart.

Here he shares some thoughts about casting an adaptation of Never Wave Goodbye, his first novel:
I've been a screenwriter for a number of years and have had my heart broken when actors I had hoped would play roles weren't available, didn't want to do the role, etc. So when I wrote Never Wave Goodbye I didn't have actors in mind. Now that it's making the rounds in Hollywood I've been doing some dreaming. I'd like Naomi Watts to play Lena Trainor, an oncologist who puts her nine year-old daughter Sarah on a bus to camp, not knowing its a fake bus. I'd like Ethan Hawke to play her husband. And I'd like to find somebody to play against type for the role of Chase Collins, the guy who pretends he's a counselor from the camp, a young comedian maybe.
Read an excerpt from Never Wave Goodbye, and learn more about the book and author at Doug Magee's website.

Writers Read: Doug Magee.

The Page 69 Test: Never Wave Goodbye.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 25, 2010

Robert Dugoni's "Bodily Harm"

Robert Dugoni has practiced as a civil litigator in San Francisco and Seattle for seventeen years. In 1999 he left the full-time practice of law to write, and is a two-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a degree in journalism and worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times before obtaining his doctorate of jurisprudence from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.

Here he shares some thoughts on casting the David Sloane character in an adaptation of his series which includes the recently released Bodily Harm:
I honestly never thought about who could play David Sloane in my three novel series, The Jury Master, Wrongful Death and Bodily Harm. Sloane is a unique hero – a lawyer who is brilliant but also physically capable. Readers have suggested Tom Cruise – nope not enough grit. Brad Pitt – perhaps but he likes the quirkier movie roles. Leonardo DiCaprio – maybe too much grit. And of course, George Clooney – perfect but maybe too old by the time the first movie came out. I like Matt Damon, who I think gets better and better, but not sure he pulls off the intellectual lead that well. Then the other day I was sitting watching Iron Man 2 with my kids and I suddenly started to consider Robert Downey Jr., who wasn’t even on my radar. I thought of Sherlock Holmes, in which he displayed a character who could be both heroic physically and intellectually brilliant. I remembered then his stint on the television show Ally McBeal, in which he was the best part of the show. So I started thinking, you know. He might just be the right fit and the dark complexion helps fit who the character is.

The best fit of any character I’ve ever written is Charlize Theron to play Dana Hill in Damage Control. She would be perfect. Anyone who can get a copy of the book to her gets a part in the movie.
Learn more about the book and author at Robert Dugoni's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Wrongful Death.

The Page 69 Test: Bodily Harm.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Maya Sloan's "High Before Homeroom"

Maya Sloan has an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University, as well as a MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Arkansas. This year her short story about Christian rock groupies was featured in the 25th Anniversary Issue of Boulevard. She has also had stories published in Passages North and Driftwood.

Here she shares some ideas about the cast of an adaptation of her first novel, High Before Homeroom, newly published by Simon & Schuster:
High Before Homeroom is about a sixteen year-old boy in Oklahoma named Doug. He is in love with a girl named Laurilee, but he’s not cool enough for her. She likes bad boys. So he decides to become a crystal meth addict, get sent to rehab, come back with street cred and win her affection.

It’s a weird book.

I’ve been told my writing is cinematic, which doesn’t surprise me. I’ve always loved movies. Small indies, foreign films, big-budget crapfests (especially the kind that involve a hurricane/crater/nuclear catastrophe destroying the world as we know it), Sci-Fi epics especially the post-apocalyptic kind), and, of course, totally unrealistic, weepy chick flicks (especially the kind that feature endearingly neurotic female leads, highlight couture gowns, and end with romantic kissing scenes in the rain/with a historical landmark as a backdrop/in some exotic tropical locale). Not to mention, I’ve been known to see the occasional highly acclaimed Academy Award-approved saga (especially if they require some gorgeous actress to put on forty pounds/some heartthrob A-list movie star to play a character that is mentally-challenged or handicapped/ornate period costumes).

I like all kinds of movies, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Well...there is one genre I adore that causes me a bit of embarrassment. No, not porn. Even more humiliating than that...

I love movie musicals.

So, with that in mind, here is the cast:

Doug, the lead: John Savage as Claude Bukowski in Hair (1979). He’s from Oklahoma. He’s all sweet, corn-fed innocence until he meets a bunch of hippies in Central Park and learns the merits of kinky sex and LSD.

Laurilee, the bad-girl he adores: Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face (1957). For the dance sequence alone.

Dingo, the nerdy best friend: Rick Moranis in Little Shop of Horrors (1986).

Mitch, the trouble-making drug addict: Jack Wild as The Artful Dodger in Oliver (1968).

Trevor, the All-American brother: Richard Beymer as Tony in West Side Story (1961).

Pops, the unstable, slightly insane meth “cook”: Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins (1964).

Angela, the seemingly innocent Christian youth group devotee with a dark side: Suzanne Cupito as Baby June in Gypsy (1959).
Visit the official High Before Homeroom website and view the video trailer, which has been nominated for Best Big Budget/Big House Trailer by The Moby Awards. There is currently an independent movie in the works.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lucy Balch's "Love Trumps Logic"

Lucy Balch loves everything Regency, particularly when it applies to men. From their shining Hessians to their noticeably absent powdered wigs, they are the epitome of style. The ladies’ dresses aren’t bad either.

Here she shares some insights about casting an adaptation of her first novel, Love Trumps Logic:
The casting game can bring a book to life, sometimes in unintended ways. Imagining this, that or the other actor as my various characters renders giggles, frowns or—finally—a sigh that acknowledges rightness.

An interesting thing about favorite actors: They can inspire whole books. Johnny Depp, my pick for sexiest actor of all time, kept my fingers flying over the keyboard as I wrote Love Trumps Logic—particularly during certain spicy scenes that are key to a romance novel. And the twelve or so year’s difference between him and my hero, Beau? It didn’t matter a whit. Beau’s sultry eyes and kissable lips—taken straight from Johnny’s face—give believability to his legendary status in the gossip rags of his day. He’s a man women want to read about, to spy on, nay, to bed.

Who better to catch charismatic Beau than Scarlett Johansson as Fiona, my heroine, a beautiful, bluestocking debutante? Fiona has limited patience with most of her suitors, and is not easily swayed by a good-looking man. A red-haired Charlize Theron would be a more typical smart-chick pick, but I cannot resist the pairing of Johnny and Scarlett.

Fiona thinks she’s found good husband material in Henry, a scientific-minded man who doesn’t slather her with compliments and drool. I wish Henry could be played by William Hurt, the perfect man to play a stuffy, sometimes grouchy, eccentric. But he’s simply too old now. If anyone can think of a younger version of Hurt, I’d love to hear about it.

Despite his shortcomings, Henry, too, has a love interest by the end of the book. The gossipy coquette who claims Henry’s heart is played by Helena Bonham Carter. She has just enough quirkiness and just the right mixture of pathos and kittenish appeal to pull off this lady.

The main villain in the story is Daphne Tarkington. She’s beautiful and heartless to the point of being cruel, and Nicole Kidman is the no-brainer choice. Her impeccable beauty makes her believable as someone who lured Beau into her bed, only showing her undercurrent of evil insanity after he was reeled in.

The secondary villains’ roles, a Cockney brother and sister, I gave to Bob Hoskins and Julie Walters. Hoskins was almost too easy to cast; the decision to cast Walters came about only after I remembered her independent, sexy older woman in Mama Mia! Speaking of which, Meryl Streep as Beau’s mother, Lady Margaret, feels right as rain.

This movie will be a blockbuster, I can feel it! Are there any screenwriters out there who want to take on the adaptation? Let me know!
Balch's Love Trumps Logic is available on Amazon.com or through Second Wind Publishing.

Visit Lucy Balch's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 14, 2010

Aaron Michael Morales' "Drowning Tucson"

Aaron Michael Morales is an Assistant Professor of English at Indiana State University where he teaches Creative Writing and Contemporary Literature. His fiction has appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, Passages North, and MAKE Magazine, among other places. His first short collection of fiction, titled From Here You Can Almost See the End of the Desert, was published in 2008.

Here he shares some ideas for casting a cinematic adaptation of his new novel, Drowning Tucson:
Drowning Tucson is set in inner-city Tucson during the late 1980s, which was a turning point for violence and gangs in this particular part of the country. To put it simply: it got much worse around this time. Not that Tucson is a bad place today. But the part of the city I explore in my novel is its underworld, the gritty underbelly of what is now widely perceived as a tourist destination for its spas, Old West theme parks, posh golf course retirement communities (in the middle of the desert!), and Native American arts and crafts. There are no cowboys in Drowning Tucson, but there are still scenes of violence that might make the Old West depictions of Tucson and its surroundings seem quaint. While there are certainly a number of Latinos who are characters in the novel, there are also some intriguing non-Latino characters as well, so it’s here that I want to start.

For the role of seedy, rapist cop, Officer Loudermilk, I eagerly invite Gary Busey to come do a reading. Though I didn’t write this character with him in mind, I think he would fill the role of crooked, waste-of-space cop quite well. If he wouldn’t come read, I’d then ask Mickey Rourke to try out for the role, though he’s slightly younger than I’d prefer. Still, he looks rough enough around the edges, which is a good thing for Officer Loudermilk. He’s what I have always envisioned when I hear the word “grizzled.”

For the wheelchair-bound preacher who preys on the less fortunate with his annual park revivals, I think Jeffrey Tambor would be a perfect fit. He would easily be able to channel his inner evangelical preacher. I see it as a logical reprise to his role as George Bluth, Sr. on the wonderful TV series, Arrested Development. Tambor treads the line of solemnity and sarcasm perfectly.

There are a few Latin Kings gangsters in the book, and the most complicated of them is the character Davíd Nuñez. The perfect fit for this role would be Gael García Bernal. He has a great range of emotion and depth. He’s Mexico’s answer to Brad Pitt, in my humble opinion. And the ladies apparently adore him. Drowning Tucson could use a heartthrob.

Benicio Del Toro, who broke my heart in 21 Grams, would be excellent as Alejandro Santiago, the man who murders his daughter’s accused rapist/murderer live on television during the accused’s arraignment. He’s a complicated character, and I could easily see Del Toro bringing him to life on the screen in the heartrending, yet believable manner necessary to pull off this role.

I realize, suddenly, that this list is heavy on the men. And, I hear that Ugly Betty is going off the air. So, who better to fill the role of abandoned-teenaged-girl-turned-prostitute than America Ferrera, the star of the now-defunct show? I think this role would finally get her the indie cred she needs to have Hollywood staying power.

There are far too many characters to go into much more detail, but suffice it to say that if this book were actually made into a film, everyone from Edward James Olmos to Selena Gomez would be able to play one role or another. It would be a horrifically beautiful cast. And it would probably be a Focus Feature, maybe even directed by Darren Aronofsky. Hey, a writer can dream too.
Learn more about the book and author at Aaron Michael Morales' website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Barbara Levenson's "Justice In June"

Barbara Levenson is the author of Fatal February, the first novel in the Mary Magruder Katz mystery series.

Here she sketches out some choices for director and cast for a television adaptation of her new novel, Justice in June:
I really see these books as a TV series, or a movie of the week on Lifetime.

Either way, the producer director must be Tony Sears, who has directed numerous plays and musicals and has that inate sense of humor and timing to set the pace for these fun mysteries.

The female lead, Mary Magruder Katz, is a fearless criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida. Joelle Carter is perfect for this part. She is appearing now as Ava in the new FX television series, Justified, and I am convinced she can play almost any young, pretty, smart protagonist.

Carlos, the hot Latin boyfriend who all women readers are in love with must be cast perfectly and Raul Esparza, star of several Broadway plays, could fill the bill. He is Cuban, handsome, and a great actor with four Tony nominations. Best of all he was raised in Miami, so he personifies the spirit of the book.

Sally Field is just annoying enough to play Mary’s mother in the same way she plays the mother on Brothers and Sisters. As for Mary’s father, Bradley Whitford now looks old enough to play the role of this curmudgeon, golf nut.

Casting Carlos’s parents is more difficult. A younger looking Rita Moreno could play ditzy enough for the mother (think good makeup). As for the father, I would have to hold a “reality show” contest in Miami for this part, or perhaps comb through the latest tela-novellas on Univision.

Mark Epstien, Mary’s old college boyfriend who deserted her in order to play baseball in the major leagues, makes an appearance in Justice In June. Joseph Fiennes would be a good fit for the role. FlashForward is about to be canceled anyway, so he’ll be looking for work.

That only leaves Sam, the German Shepherd , the last major role to cast. This is where nepotism rears its head and my own dog, Mac, short for Mr. Magruder, wins the part paws down.

So all you TV development gurus, get busy and start bidding for this series now that I’ve done all the hard work.
Learn more about the book and author at Barbara Levenson's website.

My Book, The Movie: Fatal February.

The Page 69 Test: Justice in June.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tara Hyland's "Daughters of Fortune"

Tara Hyland was born in Surrey in 1976. She studied History at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and then worked in the City for several years before leaving to write full time. She currently lives in London with her husband.

Here she shares some casting ideas should Daughters of Fortune, her debut novel, be adapted for the big screen:
There's quite a big cast of characters in my book, so I'll just go with the three daughters of the title:

Elizabeth - I always imagine Katherine Heigl's body, as Elizabeth is meant to be statuesque, with Sarah Michelle Gellar's head (the way she is in Cruel Intentions, quite bitchy and sharp!)

Caitlin - A shorter Liv Tyler (I always imagine Caitlin is about 5'6, whereas Liv Tyler is 5'10). I always imagine Caitlin to be sexy in an earthy, natural way, just like Liv Tyler playing Arwen in The Lord of the Rings.

Amber - if she ever turned to acting, Avril Lavinge! Amber's meant to be a bit of a wild child, so I think Lavinge's rock princess looks would suit her perfectly.
Read an excerpt from Daughters of Fortune, and learn more about the book and author at Tara Hyland's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dani and Eytan Kollin's "The Unincorporated War"

Dani Kollin is co-author (with his brother Eytan) of The Unincorporated Man and the recently released The Unincorporated War.

Here he shares some ideas for casting the lead in a big screen adaptation of the series:
The protagonist of The Unincorporated Man and The Unincorporated War, Justin Cord, must be the living embodiment of a value (freedom) and as such is not granted a wide birth for real pathos (the bad guy on the other hand is wonderfully evil). Who could pull that off and still be captivating? A few actors come to mind: Ulrich Mühe whose work in The Lives of Others was subtle, yet mesmerizing or perhaps Clive Owen, whose Children of Men performance was also understated but outstanding.
Learn more about the book and authors at Dani Kollin's blog and The Unincorporated Man website.

The Page 69 Test: The Unincorporated War.

--Marshal Zeringue