Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sally Koslow's "The Widow Waltz"

Sally Koslow, who was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, is the former editor in chief of McCall’s magazine. Married and the mother of two sons, she lives in New York City.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Widow Waltz:
The Widow Waltz may be a novel, but I picture it as if it were cinema in the tradition of Nancy MeyersSomething’s Gotta Give or It’s Complicated. (Does anyone have Nancy’s email?)

The story is set in photogenic locations, Manhattan and East Hampton, with a heroine who searches for the truth beneath her dead husband’s betrayal. It’s a hopeful tale of not just a mother but two daughters, as well--all three pampered ladies need to grow up. Reinvention, humor, intrigue, midlife romance, dementia, jewelry, Twitter and gardening: these are the ingredients.

The star of the novel is the widow Waltz, Georgia. Given to self-deprecation, Georgia describes herself as “no longer a glorious bloom in the ecosystem” and “pleased that I am not like many of my friends, overly proud of ropy, hard-won bodies mismatched to faces that may as well display logos advertising cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists.” She remains much like she was in college, with “teacup breasts, round and high, which was enough, this being decades before implants inflated bosoms and expectations” and she is still a beauty, albeit with a crow’s foot or two and spider veins. Georgia hasn’t “gone aggressively blonde. Her hair (is) the color of clover honey, almost the brown of years ago…. a near-sighted nurse once measured her as five-five, and forever after Georgia has respected this mistake.” For the role of Georgia Waltz, I give you Vera Farmiga, Naomi Watts or Sandra Bullock.

Georgia’s older daughter, Nicola, is adopted from Korea. She’s reserved and elegant, with silky long black hair and “hips and arms, skinny as spaghetti but as toned a fifteen year old boy’s.” I’m seeing Jamie Chung, who got her start in reality TV and has branched out into movies. Remember her in The Hangover Part II? Nicola’s younger sister Luey is their parents’ biological child and has inherited her mother’s shape and face. Her lips are full and pouty. Depending on who is cast for Georgia, I could imagine the incomparable Jennifer Lawrence, because I could imagine her in anything, as well as Emma Watson or Elizabeth Olsen, who I loved in Martha Marcy May Marlene. Luey is a pisser; she would be fun to play.

We don’t see much of Ben Silver, Georgia’s husband, who dies in the prologue of a massive coronary, though “he was a study in egg-white omelets and soy.” Ben has salt-and-pepper-hair, blue eyes and long legs—he's a runner, who goes down training for the New York marathon. Paging George Clooney, who has proven chemistry with, well, anyone. Should George be unavailable, Viggo Mortensen would work for a devil like Ben. Yet another idea: Hugh Jackman. Give the guy a break and let him play sexy.

Camille Waltz, Georgia’s mother, fixates on Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. I would cast Jaclyn Smith. Camille, who has Alzheimer’s, has lost her filter, and spits out zingers. Sweet Jaclyn could let loose lot with this role.

Stephan Waltz, Georgia older brother, is an Anglophile given to quoting Oscar Wilde. He has Georgia’s eyes—“almond shape, charcoal, deep set.” Who better than Rupert Everett, who is an Oscar doppelgänger? Although Stephan is from Philadelphia, Rupert need not tone down his posh speech. Stephan is affected enough to have a faux-Brit accent.

Casting Daniel Russianoff, Stephan’s lover and Georgia friend, is hard, because most handsome actors are thin, and I imagined the character with “bulk rendered elegant by the fine tailoring of his tweed jacket woven in the grays of cobblestones.” He has “black-haired with a closely trimmed beard and mustache…. broad shoulders and stands only a few inches taller than (Georgia,)” with dark curls that “tumble over his forehead and collar. His nose is a beautiful bumpy beak.” I could see Michael Imperioli if he grew a beard and ate a lot of lasagna or a newcomer the casting agent discovers shopping at Paul Smith.

Nat Ross, Georgia’s book store owner beau, is “rumpled, in cords with shaggy salt-and-pepper hair and the sort of thick, black glasses (she) associates with serial killers.” Greg Kinnear or Bill Pullman, come on down.

Last, we meet Naomi McCann, “all confidence and command. She has a symmetrical beauty-queen face that speaks of time on a sailboat and no use for sunscreen. Her hair is pushed back with a headband, though there’s nothing Junior League about her. She’d be the last woman to wear pastels. You’d elect her foreman of the jury or captain of the rugby team.” Hello,  Robin Wright or Maria Bello. Either tough cookie could run walk away with the part.

Now that casting of The Widow Waltz is complete, all we need is financing.
Learn more about the book and author at Sally Koslow's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue