Friday, November 22, 2013

Keith Raffel's "A Fine And Dangerous Season"

An avid reader of crime fiction since picking up his first Hardy Boys mystery, Keith Raffel became a published author in 2006. Bookreporter called his Dot Dead “the most impressive mystery debut of the year.” Its 2009 sequel, Smasher, was a national bestseller and has been optioned for film. Raffel’s next two novels, Drop By Drop and A Fine and Dangerous Season, were top 10 bestsellers on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s ebook lists. Raffel also has a life outside the literary world. He has founded an award-winning Silicon Valley company, served as counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee, taught writing to college freshmen, run for Congress, worked at a DNA sequencing company, and supported himself gambling at the racetrack.

Here Raffel dreamcasts an adaptation of A Fine and Dangerous Season:
Well, it’s not hard to get us writers spinning off into the realm of unreality – spending time in Fantasy Land is what we do for a living. Since Thomas & Mercer published A Fine And Dangerous Season this month, it must be about time to start casting the movie, right?

How about a little reminder of the plot of Fine and Dangerous? Twenty-three-year-old John F. Kennedy is spending the fall quarter of 1940 at Stanford as a special student. (That’s true in the real world, too.) He meets law student Nate Michaels who is in some respects JFK’s mirror image: secular Jew rather than observant Catholic; San Franciscan rather than Bostonian; son of a crusading left-wing union official rather than of a buccaneering capitalist. Opposites attract and the two become best friends until an irrevocable falling out. Twenty-two years later, in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, now-President Kennedy needs Michaels’ help to avert nuclear war.

So (drumroll)…. Here’s what I came up with in my daydream of playing movie producer.

Casting JFK is the key to the movie. My wife was watching TV the other night and I saw Dr. McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy. Patrick Dempsey is charismatic, outgoing, attractive to women, and even close to the right age. (JFK was just about 46 at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.) On top of that Dempsey has even had practice in the role. He played the lead in JFK: Reckless Youth back in 1993. (Here's a clip.)

So now who is going to be Nate Michaels? Intense. Introverted. Intellectual. How about Robert Downey Jr.? Right age, too.

Back in 1962, Jackie Kennedy was 30 years old. So we need someone dark and glamorous and young. How about Anne Hathaway? I really do think there's a resemblance there, don't you?

At Stanford in 1940, Nate has a girlfriend he has no right to have. She’s Miriam Coblentz, 19 years old and blonde. Dianna Agron plays someone around that age on Glee even though she’s 27. She's Jewish and from the Bay Area, just like Miriam. Let’s go with her.

What about JFK’s right hand man, brother Bobby? He’s 37, shorter than JFK and toothier too. I haven’t seen Tobey Maguire around lately. Do you think he’s available?

Whoever plays the cigar-chomping General Curtis LeMay, head of the Air Force, should have the inside track for a supporting actor Oscar. It’s a plum of a part. He’s done with 30 Rock, so let’s give it to Alec Baldwin. (Do you think he's willing to color his hair?)

Nate’s back channel to Moscow runs through Maxim Volkov, head of the KGB in Washington. There’s no dancing, but I’d still like to make an offer to Mikhail Baryshnikov.

At the end of the book, Nate finds himself leaping across the roofs of Washington with Russian femme fatale Natalya Leontieva while two agents of Soviet military intelligence give chase. I’ve heard her Russian accent on Castle. Sounded good to me. Come on down, Stana Katic.

Don’t like any of my choices? Fine. Am open to any bankable actors you might suggest. And if there are any producers out there with a few tens of millions to spend? Get in touch.

In the meantime, you could always try (gasp!) reading the book.
Learn more about the book and author at Keith Raffel's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue