Equalizer Returns

As I first reported back in April,  a movie version of THE EQUALIZER is in the works. The latest newsiin Variety  is that producer Mace Neufeld has talked The Weinstein Company into picking up the rights and footing the bill for developing the feature.

"The Equalizer was one of my favorite TV series of hte 1980s, because the writing was always smart and very unpredictable," said Harvey Weinstein.

No director, screenwriter or cast have been attached yet — but wouldn’t it be great if Tarantino took a crack at it?

Dating Remaindered Men

Harley Jane Kozak’s book DATING DEAD MEN has been remaindered…meaning the publisher is going to sell their stock of unsold copies to booksellers by the pound (so the formerly $24.95 books will end up in the bargain bin at Barnes & Noble for $4.98).  When your books are scheduled to be remaindered, the publisher first offers you the opportunity to buy as many copies as you like for a buck or two.  Harley writes:

Anyhow, a few days later, when the actual Remainder Notice from Random House
arrived in the mail, it turned out to be 2,740 books @ $1.43 a book. Meaning
that the two thousand dollars I’d rounded it off to turned out to be . . . a
tiny bit more. Okay, $3,918.20. Plus tax.

Which led to another not-so-fabulous dilemma.

Where does one put 2,740 books?

It’s a hard offer to resist. I know, because I’ve fallen for it. I have hundreds and hundreds of copies of BEYOND THE BEYOND and MY GUN HAS BULLETS in my garage. Now, a decade after they were published, I have resorted to giving them away in bookbags at conventions and at signings for my new books — using them, basically, like promotional bookmarks. Even so, I’ve hardly made a dent in my stockpile. My advice to Harley — resist the urge. Buy a 100 of each and let the rest go to the remainder bins of America.


Unfinished Greene

Graham Greene’s treatment for NO MAN’S LAND, a film script he never wrote, and his unfinished short story THE STRANGERS HAND, are being published together in one volume early next year by the University of Texas. The Wall Street Journal reports that NO MAN’S LAND was written in the period between Greene’s novels THE HEART OF THE MATTER and END OF THE AFFAIR and that the pages have lanquished for over thirty years in the University’s archives. I can see the academic interest in Greene’s movie treatment and unfinished story…but is there any real entertainment value in it for readers?

Screenwriters Getting Press

The media relations committee at the WGA must be giddy — the LA Times is giving screenwriters a lot of attention lately. For example, today they did a short profile of Robin Swicord, discussing how she went about adapting MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. It sounds like it was an unusual process:

"I had to go absolutely unprepared to the first meeting," she said. "I
hadn’t read the book since it came out. When I came into the meeting,
it was clear he had a movie in his head."

After she left, she
reread the book and began to take notes. "I wrote an outline of what
the movie might look like," she said. "Mostly, I wrote 18 pages of
musing on aspects of the book — the thematic lines that drove the
narrative of the story. I e-mailed him that. He contacted me and asked
me to come to another meeting."

Hired the next day, Swicord
spent six weeks working on a 70-page outline that resembled a
screenplay without dialogue. "It was the film completely envisioned
with casting and location breakdowns. The idea was that they would be
able to take that and start going to work. Rob had to cast without a
screenplay. It was intense."

On top of that, while she was writing, another writer was simultaneously doing the rewrites:

Because Swicord was still off working on the script as rehearsals
began, Marshall brought in scribe Doug Wright to make changes when

"Some of the lines got tweaked," Swicord says, adding that Marshall promised her that 99% of her script would remain intact.

"He was as good as his word," she adds.

On Sunday, the LA Times, did a lengthy article about the rewrites that plagued FUN WITH DICK AND JANE before, during, and after production. Then, in another article the same day, the paper did a superficial examination of the credit arbitration process on both FUN and MEMOIRS, as well as a few other movies.

Moviemaking has been a collaborative business since Day 1, but rarely
have so many screenwriters converged on so few screenplays. While some
upcoming holiday films may be credited to just one writer, that hardly
means just one writer wrote the whole movie.

In some cases, producers and studios throw different writers at
different sections of a story, adding a joke here, some action there.
In other instances, a writer — or team of writers — does a
top-to-bottom rewrite.

The Writers Guild of America is then asked to sort out who did what and award the credits as it deems proper — a process that invariably leaves someone out in the cold. For example, while only
three writers were credited for the first "Charlie’s Angels" movie, no fewer than 17 scribes took a whack at its script.

Sticking to the Character

I got this email query today:

I have a question about novels based on tv shows.   When you write a
novel based on the tv shows how do you keep the characters lives from developing
beyond what has happened on the tv show?  Or do their lives develop differently
from their lives on tv?   Does that make sense? 

The short answer is that I worked hand-in-hand with the producers of  MONK to make sure my books are running on a parallel course, development-wise. And if I do create some new backstory (as I have done to some degree), that it’s acceptable to the creator of the show and consistent with what that have done or intend to do.

For more detailed informati0n on how tie-ins are written, check out the many articles at the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers website.

The Destruction of French Culture is Complete

Starskyandhutchphotographc10045921Variety reports that the French are doing there own TV series remake of STARSKY AND HUTCH.

Tentatively titled "Duval and Madani," the Gallic version will be a comic cop
show liberally adapted from the original, minus the macho attitude. M6 and Sony
are planning 22 52-minute episodes for the first season, and are set to begin
lensing the pilot in the next few weeks…

…Alexandre Brasseur (France 2 skein
"Inspector Maigret") is slated to play Madani, the Gallic incarnation of David  Starsky, while Laurent
Hennequin will play Duval, aka Ken Hutchinson, according to French daily Le
Parisien. They reportedly have signed for three seasons of the skein.

In a new twist, the remake will cast a woman in the role of Captain Dobey,
with Monica Cruz said to be up for the part.

Action fans are in for a treat, with stunt vet Remy Julienne reportedly
involved in the project.

Wisdom from Joe

As usual, author Joe Konrath has some excellent advice for writers. Today’s lesson:  "Avoid Plodding Plotting."

The fact is, readers don’t want your hero to be happy. At least, not
until the end. They want angst, conflict, ruined dreams, dashed hopes,
impossible situations, neuroses, struggle, heartache, near death
experiences, ruined lives, and pain.

All you need to know about plotting is twofold.

  1. Give your characters goals.
  2. Don’t let them reach those goals.

He goes on to give some excellent examples of how to pull this off.

When Popes Attack!

Emmy-award winning comedy writer Ken Levine has started a blog, but it’s off to a rocky start:

The L.A. Times CALENDAR section did a big feature on local bloggers on Thursday.
I did not make the cut. When I started this venture, way back on Saturday, I
knew it would take time to catch on but not this much time. Jesus! Still, I will
carry on…

I loved his observation today about the two TV movies about John Paul II.

Dueling Popes! Two networks have biopics on John Paul II scheduled. Sorry Fox is
not one of them. They’d probably want to give the pontiff a hot love interest.