Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Virginia Baily's "Early One Morning"

Virginia Baily holds a PhD and MA in English from the University of Exeter. She founded and co-edits Riptide, a short-story journal. She is also the editor of the political series of the Africa Research Bulletin. She lives in Exeter, Devon.

Here Baily dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Early One Morning:
This is a work in progress and so far I have only managed to cast three of the main characters. I have however suggested minor parts to some young drama students I know if the book is ever made into a movie!

I have chosen Isabella Rossellini to play my main character, Chiara Ravello. She looks the part, dark-haired and elegant and is of mixed Italian heritage. She would be able to convey Chiara’s resilience and her vulnerability and also, whether she knows it or not, she already has a strong connection to the story. Her father Roberto Rossellini directed the 1945 film Rome, Open City, set in Rome during the German occupation, which helped inspire Early One Morning.

If the iconic French actor Simone Signoret were still alive, I would like her to play the part of Simone, Chiara’s dearest friend. I think I might even have had Signoret partly in mind when I named my character and I imagine my Simone as having a similar raddled, sultry beauty. In her absence, I think that Fanny Ardant would carry the role very well. She can act in English, French or Italian and so has that world-travelled, polyglot air that Simone has and has the commanding presence that the role requires.

Early One Morning is about to air on BBC Radio 4 in the United Kingdom. It may be that the actors chosen for that dramatization are so well cast that they migrate to this movie? They include Greta Scaachi as the narrator and Juliet Aubrey as Chiara.

I’m wondering about Andrew Garfield for the part of Daniele. I found him profoundly moving in the film of Never Let Me Go. He is also able to look very young and so could stretch to playing the key trumpet scene when Daniele is a teenager, the even more key love-in-a-jazz club scene when Daniele is about 21 and then go up a notch age-wise for the scenes of Daniele in his late thirties. He would be able to bring the requisite pained intensity and anguish to the part.

Obviously we would need a different actor to play the seven-year-old Daniele!
Learn more about Early One Morning at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 28, 2015

Toni Gallagher's "Twist My Charm: The Popularity Spell"

Toni Gallagher earned a journalism degree from Northwestern University and has had a successful career in reality TV. She lives in Los Angeles and loves finding the magic in it.

Here Gallagher dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Twist My Charm: The Popularity Spell:
It’s funny; I’ve spent over twenty years living in Hollywood and working in the entertainment business (mostly as a reality TV producer – everything from The Real World to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) but when I was writing my middle grade novel Twist My Charm: The Popularity Spell, I didn’t think much about actors portraying my characters. My characters are mostly bits and pieces of kids and grownups I know now or knew in my childhood.

However, that changed when I watched the Tony Awards earlier this year. I was mainly fast-forwarding to the musical numbers, seeing a lot of big, splashy, over-the-top spectacles that weren’t impressing me. I paid special attention, though, to the Tony nominated show called Fun Home. I’d heard a bit about it and was intrigued, especially when an 11-year-old actress named Sydney Lucas took the stage. She sang a song – alone – no glitz, no sets, no special effects – and she blew me away. Though she doesn’t necessarily look exactly how I picture my 11-year-old main character, this actress’s facial expressions, vulnerability, and depth of emotion made me think immediately: “Cleo!”

I happened to be going to New York from LA (to appear as a “guest bartender” on the Andy Cohen talk show Watch What Happens Live on Bravo) and I managed to get tickets to Fun Home. Sydney Lucas was just as charming and wonderful in person. I thought about waiting at the stage door to meet her, complete with a copy of my book in my purse, but I wimped out. I knew it could take a while for her to come out, then I might have to wait for other people to talk to her…and ultimately, I would be a grown woman gushing over a kid and I could very well look like a doofus (a word Cleo, my character, would likely use).

However, the next day I sent the young actress a tweet, complimenting the show and telling her I’d left a copy of my book at the box office. Less than an hour later, I got a sweet reply: Oh my gosh, thank you so much! And a few days later, an adorable photo of her holding up the book and the comment Looking forward to reading your book!!

Monday night I appeared on Bravo TV, glammed up in makeup from Sephora and a black sequined dress. My twitter feed and Facebook page went crazy with both friends and strangers and, for a brief moment, I almost felt famous. But my real brush with fame has turned out to be my interactions with the talented and amazing friendly actress I wish could play Cleo.
Visit Toni Gallagher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 25, 2015

John Norris's "Mary McGrory: The First Queen of Journalism"

John Norris is the author of Mary McGrory: The First Queen of Journalism. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of the new book:
The folks over at Word & Film make a strong case for making a Mary McGrory biopic, and I am certainly not one to argue. What’s not to like about the story of a trailblazing woman journalist barnstorming around the country and mixing it up with everyone from JFK to George W. Bush? But perhaps even more than fiction, the casting of the lead is crucial in non-fiction. In Mary’s case, we need someone who is convincingly tough enough to play a woman who made it is an almost exclusively male industry in the 1950s and 60s, but who is also graced with a bit of mischief and flirtation. An actress who can carry off the role of one of the most important liberal voices in the second half of the 20th century, but who was distinctly proper, and sometimes almost Victorian, in her mannerisms. A woman who loved a cigarette and a good stiff drink but who, literally, helped out at the local orphanage on weekends.

There were certainly times when I was writing or interviewing people for the book that a young Katherine Hepburn leapt to my mind, and Mary was every bit as proud, independent and strong-willed as the characters that Hepburn brought so memorably to life. Mary never gave an inch when bantering back and forth with politicians or fellow reporters, and she was as comfortable quoting Yeats from memory as she was debating the merits of candidates with local ward bosses. As Bobby Kennedy once observed, “Mary is so gentle until she gets behind a typewriter.”

But casting someone from the silver age seems almost like cheating, as does every author’s answer that Meryl Streep should play their female lead. So what modern actresses could best fill Mary’s shoes? Kate Winslet has some real appeal, and her real life experience with mega-stardom and its discontents after Titanic seem to have given her a certain toughness and a wisdom that has not yet given way to cynicism. She looks like someone who has seen a lot of the world but not succumbed to it. Cate Blanchett would also be a wonderful fit, and she feels like she would be someone who could absolutely inhabit the role. I remember seeing Blanchett in A Streetcar Named Desire here at the Kennedy Center several years back and she delivered just a devastatingly strong emotional performance.

Politicians, who play a large part in the narrative, are equally tricky to cast, in large part because so many movies lean hard on their accents and affects without actually getting the essence of the person right. I love Edward Norton as Eugene McCarthy, with whom Mary had a complicated and stormy relationship, and he brings just enough of the Irish rogue to the role. Vincent D’Onofrio would make a fascinating Lyndon Johnson. Both are big men, and I think D’Onofrio could deliver the physicality the part demands (no disrespect to Bryan Cranston.) Let’s give Tom Hiddleston a shot at Bobby Kennedy. The last key bit of casting: Blair Clark, Mary’s most important and often heartbreaking love interest. He is far less well known publicly than the politicians Mary covered, but Clark who hailed from an old money family, was handsome, witty, and often indecisive: I think Jon Hamm would be a nice post-Mad Men fit.
Learn more about the book and author at John Norris's Facebook page, Twitter perch, and website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Jonathan Weisman's "No. 4 Imperial Lane"

Jonathan Weisman is a Washington-based economic policy reporter for the New York Times.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, No. 4 Imperial Lane:
I guess like many fiction writers, I have allowed myself to fantasize about No. 4 Imperial Lane getting the big option and ending up on the big screen. It's not outlandish. I figure with a main character being a quadriplegic -- and a fallen aristocrat to boot -- it has "vanity project" written all over it, if not Oscar bait. To that end, I'd have Ralph Fiennes cast as Hans Bromwell, the cynical quadriplegic. I always saw him as the anti-Hollywood cripple-hero. He does not paint with his teeth or tool around campus on a specially designed hospital gurney operated by his breath. He's the quadriplegic who has his electric wheelchair tossed into the street, as he shouts, "Goddamnit, if I am going to break my neck, somebody is going to push me around in an old-fashioned wheelchair."

Logically, Emma Thompson would latch on to the project as Hans Bromwell's alcoholic sister, Elizabeth. She's perfect for the part. The character is supposed to be a bit flighty, a bit disheveled, not a gorgeous woman, but a soulful one. The question is whether Ms. Thompson can play her younger, 20-year-old self, the character at the center of the back story that leads us through Portugal, Guinea-Bissau and Angola, then South Africa -- and to the family's tragic end. I'd say yes, but if my director disagrees, I'm dragooning Carey Mulligan for the role. I adore her.

My teenage daughters would never forgive me for not casting the dashing and Portuguese Diogo Morgado as the aimless, unraveling Portuguese doctor, Joao Goncalves, who marries Elizabeth Bromwell in a moment of weakness, drags her to war in Africa, and slowly falls apart. Might be a heavier lift than Jesus, but let's give him a chance.

As for my narrator, granted, he's based loosely on my own younger self, but this is Hollywood. I want Miles Teller. He can capture that lost look of a college student with no direction or ambition, but the depth he showed in Whiplash tells me he, like David Heller, can mature and focus over the course of the film.

As for directors, I would have liked nothing more than to reunite Ralph Fiennes with his English Patient director Anthony Minghella. Sadly, Minghella died -- damnit. Given that this would likely be a Ralph Fiennes vanity project, I'd have to let him direct if he wants. Otherwise, I'd really like Danny Boyle to bring the sweep of Slumdog Millionaire and the clear, jaundiced British eye of Trainspotting to No. 4 Imperial Lane.
Follow Jonathan Weisman on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 21, 2015

Polly Dugan's "The Sweetheart Deal"

Polly Dugan is the author of So Much a Part of You and The Sweetheart Deal. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Here Dugan dreamcasts an adaptation of The Sweetheart Deal:
I went right to the A-list for casting the movie adaptation of The Sweetheart Deal because holding these actors in my head both informed the writing and helped build the characters into three-dimensional beings. Plus it didn’t hurt that some of my favorite actors are included in this all-star cast.

Kevin Gallagher, a firefighter and 9/11 survivor who also appears in the last story in my first book, is and always has been played by Ed Burns. Ed as an actor, and the majority of characters he plays are precisely who Kevin is: an Irish Catholic native New Yorker. In every piece of dialogue he utters, Kevin’s voice was as authentic as I could make it because I heard Ed saying the words. And, Ed’s narration of The Man in the Red Bandana, the heroic 9/11 story of Welles Crowther was a tremendous influence in casting him. He’d be a natural in Portland Fire and Rescue gear.

Similarly, Leo McGeary has always been played by Mark Wahlberg. Mark can channel the quintessential man-boy in his sleep, and that’s exactly who Leo is. He’s a firefighter and responsible father who maybe pushes his sons too far sometimes, but he’s also a practical joker who is still madly in love with his wife after almost 20 years. So do the math: Rugged, Sexy, Thoughtful + Master of the Smirk + Real Life Dad Who Has Played Multiple Dads on the Big Screen = The Actor Formerly Known as Marky Mark. Bonus points that he’s Catholic, like Leo, and has previously played a firefighter, albeit a parodied one, in I Heart Huckabees.

Because of their on-screen chemistry in more than one film, and their co-starring roles in The Basketball Diaries, 20 years ago, Mark Wahlberg’s Leo McGeary has always been best friends since the age of 14 with Leo DiCaprio’s Garrett Reese. And both because of his real-life confirmed bachelordom and his tremendous ability as an actor to play conflicted characters suffering a loss, the role of Garrett has always belonged to one of the finest actors working today.

One of the truest roles of a heartbroken wife that I’ve ever seen depicted in film is Michelle Williams as Alma in Brokeback Mountain. I’m a long-time fan and although the character of Audrey McGeary, Leo’s widow, is a bit older than Michelle, that’s what make-up is for and I can’t think of an actress who can better convey a compelling balance of strength, grief, motherhood and sensuality, especially if she’s playing opposite both Mark Walhberg and Leo DiCaprio. Bonus points: Michelle has shot other movies in Portland and other parts of Oregon and my book about a family’s overcoming grief and loss with a love triangle in the middle is based in Portland.

Garrett’s father Julian, although he’s a supporting actor, is in a handful of significant scenes and he fills a necessary function in the story. The role of Julian would go to Ed Harris. Because Ed Harris.

As far as directors go I’m torn between Peter Berg, Kathryn Bigelow, Ed Burns and Sarah Polley.
Learn more about the book and author at Polly Dugan's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 18, 2015

D. E. Ireland's "Move Your Blooming Corpse"

Writing under the pen name D.E. Ireland, longtime friends and award winning authors Meg Mims and Sharon Pisacreta teamed up in 2013 to create a series based on George Bernard Shaw’s celebrated characters Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins. The first book in the series, Wouldn’t It Be Deadly, was a 2014 Agatha Award finalist for Best Historical Mystery.

Here the authors dreamcast an adaptation of their new novel, Move Your Blooming Corpse:
Lights! Camera! Action! It’s time to cast Move Your Blooming Corpse, the second book in our Edwardian mystery series. We are quite lucky because our books are based on George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, which later inspired the musical My Fair Lady. Since a number of people have taken on the roles of our main characters both onstage and onscreen, we already have a pool of actors to choose from. Photos of those we decide to cast as our characters are pinned onto our secret Pinterest board. This helps us “see” them while we’re writing a scene.

When it comes to our continuing troupe of characters – drawn from Shaw’s play and the musical – we can’t do better than the stars of the 1964 film My Fair Lady: Rex Harrison’s incomparable Henry Higgins and Audrey Hepburn’s charming Eliza Doolittle. We also wanted that movie’s Wilfred Hyde White to play our Colonel Pickering and Stanley Holloway to portray Eliza’s irrepressible father Alfred.

Unlike the 1964 film, our love-struck Freddy Eynsford Hill is played by Dan Stevens, otherwise known as Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey. The lovely star of The Princess Bride, Robin Wright, has been cast as his teenaged sister Clara, with Miranda Richardson taking on the role of their mother. For Professor Higgins’s mother, we decided upon the elegant yet formidable Helen Mirren. As for the intrepid Scotland Yard inspector Jack Shaw and his suffragette sweetheart Sybil Chase, the actors Colin Farrell (from Saving Mr. Banks) and Ruth Wilson (also in the same film and currently starring on The Affair) seemed an ideal choice. And wouldn’t Tilda Swinton look and sound marvelous as Alfred’s blowsy, red-headed wife, Rose Cleary Doolittle!

For the suspects and victims of Move Your Blooming Corpse, we pictured Stockard Channing as the adventurous Duchess of Carbrey, and Uma Thurman as the flighty, blond, and gorgeous Gaiety Girl Diana Price. The moody tea merchant Jonathon Turnbull is played by suavely sinister Jonathan Rhys Meyers, with Laura Carmichael (aka Lady Edith Crawley on Downton Abbey) as his long suffering wife. Fans of Homeland will be amused to learn we’ve picked the star of that show, Damien Lewis, to play the charming, but often drunk, Lord Saxton. And we couldn’t resist seeing a young Winona Ryder as his haughty wife Lady Hortense Saxton, known to her friends as Lady Tansy.

Since one half of our writing team is a huge Game of Thrones fan (FYI, it’s Sharon), we chose Kit Harrington (Jon Snow on GOT) to embody the dashing jockey Bomber Brody. And Trekkies might be amused to learn we cast Patrick Stewart, the former Captain Picard, as our gentleman gardener Sir Walter Fairweather. Because Meg loved Hugh Laurie as a bumbling henchman in 101 Dalmatians, the versatile actor was selected to play stockbroker – and cuckolded husband – Gordon Longhurst. Finally, we would hand over the directing reins to Oscar winner Ang Lee, who directed the marvelous Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.

So there you have it, a great ‘cast’ of characters for Move Your Blooming Corpse. Have a galloping good read!
Learn more about the book and author at D. E. Ireland's website.

The Page 69 Test: Wouldn't It Be Deadly.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Julianna Baggott's "Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders"

Julianna Baggott has published more than twenty books over the last twelve years.

Her she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders:
Harriet Wolf has to span from young to quite old, a real stretch. I think Natalie Portman and Amy Adams both have an agelessness about them and their beauty translate to any era.

Harriet's love affair that spans the twentieth century is with Eppitt -- brilliantly portrayed by James McAvoy. Why not?

After seeing Olive Kitteridge, I envision Eleanor as played by Frances McDormand, absolutely.

Mia Wasikowska would make a brilliantly ethereal Tilton, and Ruthie would be beautifully done by an actress like Maggie Gyllenhaal, who plays both tough and vulnerable.

J.K. Simmons would be a delightful George.
Learn more about the book and author at Julianna Baggott's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 14, 2015

Catherine Reef's "Noah Webster: Man of Many Words"

Catherine Reef is the author of more than 40 nonfiction books, including many highly acclaimed biographies for young people. She lives in College Park, Maryland.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Noah Webster: Man of Many Words:
Biographies on the big screen—how we love them! What could be more enthralling than a famous person’s efforts to make it in a hostile world? He or she overcomes addiction, holds a nation together, or simply struggles to be understood, and we can’t tear our eyes away. It’s no wonder figures as diverse as Edith Piaf, Stephen Hawking, Lincoln, and Liberace have been given the cinematic treatment in recent years. So why not Noah Webster?

Imagine the appeal: thrilling panoramas of Revolutionary War battle, tense debates inside Independence Hall and the Connecticut State House, a glorious parade through eighteenth-century Manhattan with thousands of extras in period dress cheering and waving (are you paying attention, Martin Scorsese?); Webster at his desk, busily writing.

Now imagine the pivotal scene in which Webster comes ashore after crossing the Hudson River in 1782, at Newburgh, New York, the site of General George Washington’s headquarters. There he encounters the assembled American forces waiting to be disbanded. Picture him walking among the men and hearing the cacophony of language arising from their huts and campfires: German, Dutch, French, Gaelic, and English as it was spoken in the southern states, which sounds foreign to the ears of an American from the North. As Webster strolls, we see his mind at work. He is confirming his belief that the United States will never prosper without a common language to bond its people, and he is pondering what he will do to foster that unity.

Who should play the lead? Once word gets around in Hollywood that a Webster biopic is in the works, any number of A-list actors will be vying for the role. If I were casting, I would offer it to Colin Firth—first, because he looks the part. Webster was six feet tall and solidly built, and portraits show him with a square face not too dissimilar to Firth’s. My second reason for choosing Firth is the more important one, the demands the role would place on an actor. Noah Webster was a complex man. Arrogant, opinionated, and socially awkward, he had a way of irritating people. Yet he was unfailingly honest, devoted to his wife and children and to his country, and committed to his life’s work, which would prove to be of lasting importance. An actor playing the part would face the same challenge I did when bringing Webster to life on the page: how to show him in all his cantankerousness and still give the audience reason to like him. Having played to acclaim a broad range of roles that includes Fitzwilliam Darcy, writer Blake Morrison, and King George VI, Firth has demonstrated his ability to create nuanced characters.

But enough about Colin Firth. There are other parts to cast, including that of Noah’s wife, Rebecca Greenleaf Webster. She was small in stature, with dark hair and eyes. A rich man’s daughter, she liked expensive home furnishings and stylish clothes, and was particularly fond of one green brocade dress. She was also good at having children. Who in our day matches this description better than Kim Kardashian? It is high time for her to launch her movie career, and this film might be the perfect vehicle.

Many famous figures appear in Webster’s story, which means there are opportunities for cameo appearances of the kind Wes Anderson likes to feature. Picture Bill Murray as the aged Ben Franklin, Edward Norton as the boyish James Madison, Bruce Willis as John Adams, and Geoffrey Rush as…Benjamin Rush. I’d like to see Steve Buscemi play Judge Jedediah Strong, the recorder of deeds in Litchfield, Connecticut, who was Webster’s friend and an early mentor. A congenial if nervous man, Strong gradually slipped into insanity. His arrest for cruel treatment of his wife and his 1789 divorce made for sensational headlines.

I’m almost done. There’s one significant figure left to cast, General Washington, and there is but one actor who was born to play the role. Charismatic, commanding, eloquent—I’m talking, of course, about Wallace Shawn, star of stage and screen. He might have to stand on a box, but hey.
Visit Catherine Reef's website.

The Page 69 Test: Frida & Diego.

Coffee with a Canine: Catherine Reef & Nandi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 11, 2015

Jay Atkinson's "Massacre on the Merrimack"

Jay Atkinson, called “the bard of New England toughness” by Men’s Health magazine, is the author of eight books. Caveman Politics was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program selection and a finalist for the Discover Great New Writers Award; Ice Time was a Publishers Weekly Notable Book of the Year and a New England Bookseller’s Association bestseller; and Legends of Winter Hill spent seven weeks on the Boston Globe hardcover bestseller list. He has written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Newsday, Portland Oregonian, Men’s Health, Boston Sunday Herald, and Boston Globe magazine, among other publications. Atkinson teaches writing at Boston University and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times. He grew up hearing Hannah Duston's story in his hometown of Methuen, Massachusetts, which was part of Haverhill until 1726. He lives in Methuen, Massachusetts.

Here Atkinson dreamcasts an adaptation of his new book, Massacre on the Merrimack: Hannah Duston's Captivity and Revenge in Colonial America:
Early on March 15, 1697, a band of Abenaki raided the English frontier village of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Striking swiftly, the Abenaki killed twenty-seven men, women, and children, and took thirteen captives, including 39-year old Hannah Duston and her week-old daughter, Martha. A short distance from the village, one of the warriors murdered the squalling infant by dashing her head against a tree. After a forced march of nearly one hundred miles, Duston and two companions were transferred to a smaller band of Abenaki, who camped on a tiny island located at the junction of the Merrimack and Contoocook Rivers, several miles north of present day Concord, New Hampshire. Later that first night, Duston and her two companions killed two warriors, two women, and six children. After stealing a canoe and departing the island, Duston returned briefly to scalp her victims.

In casting a movie made from this story, I would be interested, as I always am, in a strong woman. A Howard Hawks-style woman. As Hannah Duston, perhaps Jennifer Lawrence or Hilary Swank. As her fifty-one year-old nurse and companion, the widow Mary Neff, you’d have to go with Meryl Streep or perhaps Susan Sarandon. As Duston’s stalwart husband, Thomas, who saved their children and kept a band of warriors at bay with his single-shot rifle, I can see a grizzled Josh Brolin or a grubby Tom Hardy. There are some good character parts, too: John Lithgow or Anthony Hopkins as Judge Samuel Sewall, who took part in the Salem witch trials just a few years earlier and entertained Goodwife Duston and her husband at his Boston home. Benedict Cumberbatch as Cotton Mather. Christoph Waltz as Count Frontenac, the mercurial French colonial governor.

Going back into Hollywood’s golden era, Barbara Stanwyck or Joan Crawford as Hannah Duston. Warner Baxter or Spencer Tracy as Thomas Duston. Thomas Mitchell as Sewall. A young Basil Rathbone as Mather. Raoul Walsh could direct, or you could go with a dark horse like Otto Preminger or Fritz Lang. William Wellman, who was a semi-pro hockey player and WWI aviator. Hawks, himself. Even John Ford. Fun to imagine.

Among today’s directors, there’s only one choice: Kathryn Bigelow.
Visit Jay Atkinson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Robin Constantine's "The Promise of Amazing"

Robin Constantine is a born and bred Jersey girl who moved down South so she could wear flip-flops year round. She spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, well, eventually but not without a lot of peril, angst and the occasional kissing scene.

Her YA debut, The Promise of Amazing, was released on December 31, 2013. Her new novel, set in the same world as The Promise of Amazing, is The Secrets of Attraction.

Here Constantine dreamcasts an adaptation of The Promise of Amazing:
Casting questions always make me a little squirmy because the vision I have in my head might not match that of the reader and I wouldn’t want to spoil anyone else’s idea of what my characters look like! On the other hand, it’s great fun looking at pictures of actors – even though there’s never one person I think is the Grayson or Wren in my head, here are a few that come close…

Wren Caswell is someone you might not notice at first, but once you get to know her, you can’t help but be enchanted by her. She doesn’t like to draw attention to herself, but isn’t afraid of speaking out when the mood strikes. She’s more comfortable in jeans than a prom dress but she can pull off both looks and be a total knockout. Either Saorsie Ronan or Anna Sophia Robb would bring a great complexity to Wren.

Grayson Barrett is hot but quirky, someone who can totally charm a room but underneath it all he’s genuine. He’s a little misguided, has a bit of a shady past and is a total bull in a china shop with his feelings. He’s drawn to Wren’s kindness and calm inner strength. Nick Robinson or Kendall Schmidt would bring the right mix of vulnerability and brashness to Grayson.

As for directing, I think Amy Heckerling would be perfect. I love her work in both Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless and her more current television work on Gossip Girl and The Carrie Diaries as well. I think she can find both the light and darkness in a story– she can make the funny moments hilarious and finesse the darker moments so they are genuine, not melodramatic. The Promise of Amazing is romantic but edgy – and I think she could really bring out the best in it.
Visit Robin Constantine's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 7, 2015

Stephanie Gayle’s "Idyll Threats"

Stephanie Gayle’s fascination with crime stories began when she first met a policeman at the age of 4 and outsmarted him. After flirting with the idea of becoming a defense attorney and then suffering through a few years as a paralegal, she decided writing crime fiction would be a lot more satisfying -- and fun. Gayle’s first novel, My Summer of Southern Discomfort, released in 2008 (William Morrow). By day, she's a financial assistant at MIT’s Media Lab.

Here Gayle dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Idyll Threats:
I’m not an author who usually thinks about casting actors for the film adaptation of my books - mostly because the odds of the book getting optioned and made are very slim. Plus, I know how much say an author has in the casting process (zero). But I’m game to play this round of My Book, The Movie.

My Idyll Threats protagonist, Thomas Lynch, is 44, a cop, tall, with brown hair and eyes. Big but buff. My first thought was Tom Selleck but he’s too old. Damn you, time! So then I thought of Joe Manganiello. He’s a bit younger than the Chief, but with that salt and pepper beard of his, he could pass, and I think he could project the combination of moody/smart/sexy that the Chief embodies.

For the secretary, Mrs. Dusnmore, with whom the Chief often argues, I’d cast Kristin Scott Thomas. I think she’d be great at giving as good as she gets. And the detective pair of Wright and Finnegan? Ooh. Maybe Don Cheadle for Wright and Paul Giamatti for Finnegan. They’d make a great team.

For director I’ll choose François Ozon who directed a great film called The Swimming Pool. So I know he can handle suspense/mystery. And he’s worked with Kristin Scott Thomas before. Wow, this movie is really coming together! Now let’s just sit back and wait for Hollywood to call…
Visit Stephanie Gayle's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Ginger Adams Otis’ "Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest"

Ginger Adams Otis is a newspaper reporter at the NY Daily News in New York City.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest:
It’s hardly a leap for me to imagine my book as a movie because the firefighters I’m writing about -- flesh-and-blood smoke eaters here in New York City –are genuinely larger-than-life. Their drive and charisma would easily translate to the big screen, and firefighting itself is inherently dramatic. Firefight would also adapt well to a period piece, given what it reveals the earliest first black firefighters in NYC and around the country and the discrimination they encountered. Wesley Williams, one of the city’s original pioneers, was a tremendous individual and any actor who got to portray him would be very lucky indeed! Here’s my casting wish list for Firefight the movie:

Young Wesley Williams: this one is easy, it should be his great-grandson, Chris Myers! He’s a Juilliard-trained Broadway actor who could bring his family history to life.

Older Wesley Williams: the perfect man for this role is Hisham Tawfiq, a working (soon-to-be-retired) FDNY firefighter now, Hisham is also a working actor currently starring in Blacklist with James Spader.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg: this actor is a little young but he could bring a lot of the Bloombergian qualities to vivid life, Peter MacNicol, otherwise known as one of the lawyers on Ally McBeal.

Capt. Paul Washington: someone like actor Jeffrey Wright, bringing the drama like he did in Basquiat, would be fantastic.

Lieut. Michael Marshall: one of my long-time favorites, Anthony Andersen, could embody Michael’s unique mix of charm, humor and determination.

Capt. Paul Mannix: The obvious choice would be Denis Leary, of course, because he has firefighting in his blood. But thinking outside the box, maybe Jon Hamm or Daniel Craig.

Regina Wilson: Has to be Viola Davis! She is a little older than the actual character but she’s got the grit to handle this role as one of NYC’s few black women firefighters.
Read more about Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest at Ginger Adams Otis’ website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Eytan Bayme's "High Holiday Porn"

Eytan Bayme is a graduate of McGill University and a former stage actor.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new memoir, High Holiday Porn:
High Holiday Porn is set within the New York City Jewish Modern Orthodox community in the late 1980s and 90s. It’s an insular world with religious rules and rituals, but also connected to secularism through education, culture and proximity to the metropolitan area. I grew up in a religious household, studied at a religious school and attended synagogue weekly, yet I was fascinated by the outside world and all it had to offer, particularly relating to sex. For this reason, I think it’s important that the film version of High Holiday Porn be placed in the hands of a director (or directors) who’s comfortable with subtly unique settings and time periods. Joel and Ethan Coen, specifically, would be ideal choices. All their films take place in slightly unfamiliar times and places (1930s Art Deco New York in Hudsucker Proxy, 1970s New York folk scene in Inside Llewyn Davis) and I think the Coens would handle the particularities of Modern Orthodox New York - caught between tradition and the modern world - with the same careful and considerate detail. In addition, in their depiction of suburban Conservative Judaism in A Serious Man, they incorporated the role and influence of community over its members— a theme that constantly comes up in High Holiday Porn— and I think it would be really interesting to see their interpretation of urban Orthodoxy.

While actors like Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill have all brought wit and sensitivity to roles relating to youth and sexual awakenings, I would cast High Holiday Porn slightly differently because, well, I can.

Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the most interesting actor alive today. Even the not-great films he’s worked on deserve second and third viewings, if only to watch how absorbed and buried in layers his performances can be. He hasn't acted in anything since 2012, and he tends to choose roles that lean towards historical fiction, but I’m playing casting director and think his intensity and seriousness, along with the content of the book, would make for a film unlike anything produced before. It would also be pretty cool to have him shadow me in preparation for the role, as he is famously known to do for months before filming. The only problem is that, according to IMDB, he’s fifty eight years old and High Holiday Porn spans my life from age six through eighteen. So it would have to be Daniel Day-Lewis as a youth, but with no loss of acting ability in his younger and less-experienced state. And to ensure he was up for the part, I would have him audition from the scene in the book where I’m reading a sexually charged section of talmud, in my ninth grade all boys school, while trying to not to become visibly aroused.
Visit Eytan Bayme's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Peter Lefcourt's "Purgatory Gardens"

Peter Lefcourt is a refugee from the trenches of Hollywood, where he has distinguished himself as a writer and producer of film and television.

Here he dreamcasts an adaptation of his new novel, Purgatory Gardens:
This is a no-brainer:

MARCY GRAY, the aging actress and eternal ingénue: Meryl Streep.

SAMMY DEE, the ex-mafioso in Witness Protection: If we can’t bring James Gandolfini back, I’d go with Jack Nicholson.

DIDIER ONYEKACHUKWU, the former corrupt Minister of Finance of Upper Volta: Morgan Freeman.

EVELYN DUBOFF, intrepid private eye and Palm Springs yenta: Kathy Bates.

MARSHAL DILLON, the federal marshal and Sammy’s conduit to the outside world: Kevin Spacey.

WALT and BIFF KELLER, father-and-son hit men, and patio deck installers: Tom and Colin Hanks.

Publishers Weekly pronounced the book “a novel ready made for the movies.” Who am I to disagree with them?
Visit Peter Lefcourt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue