Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ben Tanzer's "You Can Make Him Like You"

Ben Tanzer is the author of the books Lucky Man, Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine, Repetition Patterns and 99 Problems. He also oversees day-to-day operations of This Zine Will Change Your Life.

Here he shares his thoughts on the above-the-line talent for an adaptation of his new novel, You Can Make Him Like You:
Once upon a time, and in a galaxy far, far away I was once asked to tackle the challenge presented by "My Book, The Movie" for my novel Lucky Man. At the time I expressed a handful of desires and recommendations.

One, that when Lucky Man was optioned, and for the record it's still available, so please do contact my representatives, quickly, I hoped that one result would be that Diane Lane would become so enamored with the movie's writing she would be compelled to finally return one of my calls. Still waiting for that, though my hopes are on the rise again with the release of my new novel You Can Make Him Like You.

Two, that the soundtrack would have to include songs by the still largely unknown band The Hold Steady, and this will not change with You Can Make Him Like You, a novel both inspired by and an homage to the now much more widely loved music of that very same band.

Three, that for the director, I would favor Larry Clark, Gregg Araki, Sofia Coppola, Noah Baumbach or Todd Field, among others, and I would still like to see any of these directors put their stamp on this project, though as these characters are in some ways the potentially adult versions, and survivors, of the characters who populate Lucky Man, Greg Arraki and Larry Clark may be much less appropriate, and regardless, Todd Field remains my favored choice.

And fourth, in terms of the cast, I had commented on how cool it would be to cast a group of young actors who seem to emerge fully formed on the scene, like with Diner or The Outsiders, and I am proud to say that the actors I was drawn to, Shia LaBeouf, Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emile Hirsh, have certainly emerged in bigger, and sometimes, better ways since then.

In particular, I had wanted to cast Shia Labeouf as the knowing Sammy, and Amanda Bynes as his girlfriend Tara, and as both of them pop-up in supporting roles in You Can Make Him Like You, I am going to ask them to reprise their roles here. That however leaves our chief protagonist Keith, he of the conflicted and constricted views of the universe, his universe anyway, and while a slightly doughier Joseph Gordon-Levitt could own this, I'm concerned about his age and so I'm thinking James Franco, though I'm guessing he will be harder to land than he might have been six months ago.

This leaves his once best friend and confidant, John, he of the Midwest looks and Big Ten football player build, and for him I'm thinking we should reunite James Franco with his Freaks and Geeks co-star Jason Segel, who certainly has the required comedic chops, but hasn't been asked to go quite this dramatic as well before this; Keith's, lovely and funny, but slowly losing, though not wanting to lose, her patience wife Liz, hello Michelle Trachtenberg; and John's hot, definitely lost her patience, tough, but hurting wife Monica, and for her I am going to suggest America Ferrera who we haven't seen enough of recently but who does pain and humor as well as anyone.

A final comment might be, that one other recommendation I made with that earlier essay was that all the actors had to study the work of River Phoenix, Running on Empty in particular, and this still remains true; sensitive, smart, funny, conflicted, he did all of that, and I miss him and I hope any or all of these performers would channel him at his best.
Read an excerpt from You Can Make Him Like You, and learn more about the book and author at the official website.

My Book, The Movie: Lucky Man.

The Page 69 Test: You Can Make Him Like You.

--Marshal Zeringue