Sunday, February 24, 2008

Erika Schickel's "You’re Not the Boss of Me"

Erika Schickel is the author of You're Not the Boss of Me: Adventures of a Modern Mom.

Last year, she applied the Page 69 Test to the book. Here she shares her thinking about the cast of a possible film or television adaptation:

Well, everyone wants a movie made of his or her life, right? And since my book You’re Not the Boss of Me is a memoir that is literally what it would be. As chance would have it, my book was optioned for a TV series last summer and I had many conversations with my producers about who would play me, so I come to this challenge well armed.

First of all, let it be said that I think I should play me. I was an actress long before I got into the writing racket and I think I would be brilliant in the role of Moi, but of course no one wants to make films starring 43 year-old unknown actresses. So, what-ever, Mary.

My next choice was Laura Linney, because she’s smart and brittle and has that New York/intellectual/WASP thing going and those are my people. Did you see The Squid and the Whale? That was my childhood and Linney was note perfect in that. But producers were cool on her and started trying to sell me on Debra Messing (yikes!) so I countered with Téa Leoni, which they loved, but they said we’d never get her. Then I saw Knocked Up and loved Leslie Mann (Apatow’s wife) just for the mouth on her. That got mild interest from the Hollywood suits, but we found out she was already attached to another project. A bit after that my husband had the wild idea of casting Natalie Maines (of the Dixie Chicks), who we both love and who has that sassy, rebellious thing happening. She lets it fly just so to see people’s reaction, which is totally me. Even though Maines has never acted, we thought she’d have been perfect and we even sent her manager a few copies of the book but never heard anything back. Then the writer’s strike hit and it all went in the turlet.

As for my kids, I’d cast a young Jodie Foster to play Franny. People are always saying how much she looks like Jodie (they said the same to me when I was twelve). Foster’s sensible and non-girly like Franny and she don’t take no crap from no one. For Georgia I’d cast Abigail Breslin or Gracie Bednarczyk (the little girl from Grace is Gone). In fact, I’d cast both of those sisters from Grace is Gone to play my girls, it's uncanny how alike they all are, which may explain why I cried all the way through that movie. Anyway, both Breslin and Bednarczyk have that kooky, look-at-me quality that Georgie has in spades. She’s not afraid to break out into a silly dance, she dresses to impress, has a sweet tummy and a super sparkly personality.

As for the other characters, I never got that far when the strike hit. I don’t know if the project will revive post-strike, but it sure was fun to think about and I’m glad my casting dreams have found an outlet here!

Visit Erika Schickel's website and her column on

The Page 69 Test: You're Not the Boss of Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mark Haskell Smith's "Salty"

Mark Haskell Smith is the author of three novels: Moist, Delicious, and, most recently, Salty, which was a Book Sense Notable Book. He is also is a screenwriter whose feature film credits include Playing God and the award-winning Brazilian film A Partilha.

Last year he applied the Page 69 Test to Salty. Here he develops some ideas for cast and director for a film adaptation of the novel:
Turk Henry, the protagonist of Salty, is a dissolute, sex addicted, Heavy Metal superstar. It’s difficult for me to put on my casting director cap and think of someone who could play him. There’s a specific physicality to him, a kind of cocksure waddle, that’s hard to find in today’s personally trained actor. The character is spoiled, pathetic and yet has the seeds of heroism gurgling around in his beer-bloated belly. I think Thomas Haden Church (Sideways) could bring the right mix of sex appeal and debauchery to the role or perhaps John Travolta in his puffy Pulp Fiction heyday.

For the character of Sheila, the fading former super model, I’d like to think there are a number of actresses who would have fun with the part like Marisa Tomei, Juliette Binoche or a post-rehab Sean Young. Presuming they enjoy spending the day naked in the shower.

Simon West (Con Air, The General’s Daughter) is already attached to direct the film version of the book and I honestly think he’s a great director for it. However, if couldn’t do it, I’d call Pedro Almodóvar. In fact, Almodovar probably should adapt and direct my Hawaiian novel, Delicious. ¿Pedro? ¿Has Leido?

Learn more about Salty at the author's website.

The Page 69 Test: Salty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Simon Wood's "Accidents Waiting to Happen"

Simon Wood is the Anthony Award winning author of four books as well as over 150 published stories and articles.

Last year he applied the Page 69 Test to Accidents Waiting to Happen. Here he speculates on the casting of a film adaptation of the novel:
The weird thing is that when I’m reading someone else’s book, I always imagine who I would like to see play the parts in the movie, but when it comes to my own books, I don’t really have a visual of who would appear in the movie. I think the reason for this is that I’m too close to the material. Also when I’m writing all these characters, I tend to be playing all these characters in my head. So if the book became a movie, I’m not sure the world is ready to see me do a one-man production.

That said, I do visualize certain people for several of the roles in Accidents Waiting to Happen. The main role of Josh Michaels requires an actor who comes over as a vulnerable everyman and not someone who is an indestructible superhero. For that I think Matthew Fox (Jack from Lost) would be perfect. I think the moviegoers would get behind him. They could forgive him for the mistakes Josh had made in the story and they would root for him to survive the onslaught coming his way.

Josh has a femme fatale in the form of Belinda “Bell” Wong in his life and there’s no contest to who I want for that role. I wrote the book with Lucy Liu in mind. Lucy would be able to pull off the cruel demented streak Bell possesses. Bell is a character you love to hate and I think Lucy would do the character justice.

The Professional is the story’s anonymous hit man. He’s a tough character to cast, as the killer goes out of his way to make himself transparent to the world around him. But I think Kevin Spacey could pull it off. The Professional is an anonymous but engaging person. For all his milquetoast outer appearance, he possesses the ability to manipulate people. He also possesses a ruthless side. The man is a killer after all. So I think Kevin would be able to give an understated performance that people won’t forget. If we couldn’t get Kevin, I would go with Hugh Laurie. He’s one of those guys who would be able to play all the facets the Professional has to offer.

The last key character in the story is Josh’s best friend, Bob Deuce. Twenty years ago, this would have been a role for John Goodman, but I need someone more contemporary and I would go with Philip Seymour Hoffman. He’s the right age and shape for Bob. And whereas PSH has become known for these serious roles, I think the lightheartedness and comic relief that Bob brings to the story would make a nice break for him and a role he could have a lot of fun with. Well, that’s how I’d sell it to him.

Well that’s the cast, now I just need to sell the movie rights…
Read an excerpt from Accidents Waiting to Happen.

Visit Simon Wood's website, his MySpace page, and his blog.

The Page 69 Test: Accidents Waiting to Happen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sophie Hannah's "Little Face"

Sophie Hannah is a bestselling poet and novelist who regularly performs her work both in the U.K. and abroad.

Here she develops some casting ideas for film adaptations of her novels Little Face and Hurting Distance:
If Little Face were to be made into a movie, I would like Kevin McKidd (Trainspotting, Dog Soldiers) to play the part of Simon Waterhouse, the main detective. McKidd is brilliant at being wronged, furious and persecuted, and that is how Simon always feels, so I think he'd be perfect. Vivienne, the controlling mother-in-law, would ideally have been played by Bette Davis - I'm not sure I'm willing to settle for anyone else! Alice, the heroine, is tricky. The young Sissy Spacek would have been perfect. I see Donald Pleasance as Detective Inspector Proust and Nicole Kidman might be all right as Briony, Alice's friend and ally. Writing this makes me realise how glad I am that I don't have to make decisions like this! My books are being adapted for TV in the UK at the moment, and I'm glad I'm not in charge of casting. In a way, I think it's better to have unknown actors playing all the roles, because then they will be identified only with one book/story - they can really become the characters they're playing. I still think of Richard Gere as Zack Mayo from An Officer and a Gentleman! Oh, while I'm thinking of that film, I wouldn't mind Debra Winger as Charlie, my female detective, though she's probably the wrong age now. Part of the problem is that my novels are set in England, so I should probably have English actors, but all the actors that spring to mind are American.

My second novel Hurting Distance is harder. Robert Haworth, the missing married lover of Naomi, would be very hard to cast. I can picture him exactly in my mind, and he doesn't really look much like anyone I can think of. He's supposed to look a bit like Elvis Costello the singer, but bigger and broader-shouldered. Naomi, the heroine, could be played by Kate Winslet - she doesn't look like her, but Kate Winslet is one of my favourite actresses and has the necessary spirit. For some reason, the person who springs to mind for Naomi's sensible friend Yvon is Laura San Giacomo (from Pretty Woman).
The Page 69 Test: Hurting Distance.

The Page 69 Test: Little Face.

--Marshal Zeringue