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Question of the Month: Books and Film

by Susan Henderson on March 30, 2008

What book would you love to see made into a movie, and who would you cast in it?

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Thanks to everyone for giving me the time, space and support to work on my edits last month. I am very very close but need one more month away to get this book in its final form. To help me do that, two very smart writers, editors, and film junkies will cover for me. You’ll meet them on Wednesday, but here’s a sneak peek.

litpark steve erickson zeroville

Steve Erickson is the author of the eight novels, including Our Ecstatic Days, Tours of the Black Clock, Days Between Stations, and his latest, Zeroville, which was chosen as one of the Best Books of the Year by Newsweek, The Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times Book Review. Steve is a teacher in the CalArts MFA writing program, editor of Black Clock literary magazine, and film critic for Los Angeles magazine. His writing has appeared in Esquire, Rolling Stone, Spin, Salon and The New York Times Magazine. And by the way, if you’d like to hear Steve read, he’ll be at REDCAT (the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater) on Tuesday, April 15th at 8:30pm.

litpark steve erickson zeroville

Talking with Steve on Wednesday will be Anthony Miller, an editor of Black Clock who writes for Bookforum, L.A. Weekly, and Los Angeles CityBeat. In 2007, he received a Los Angeles Press Club award for feature writing.

I gave these guys no rules or limits of any kind, so you will have to see what they do with that freedom. I can tell you that, besides talking about Zeroville, there will be much of interest to lovers of film, music, and Jenna Jameson. I hope you’ll make them feel welcome here!

Okay, play on!

{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

jonathanevison March 30, 2008 at 10:50 pm

. . . that’s easy–all about lulu! . . . the film rights have been optioned–whoohoo–hopefully crossroads will move forward! . . . also: sam lipsyte’s homeland, charles portis’s dog of the south . . .hmm, what else . . . graham greene’s the man within?

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Lee March 30, 2008 at 11:07 pm

I don’t care for movie adaptations of books, but I was musing, just last night in fact, that I wish someone would convince Johnny Depp to read Jacques Derrida’s “Writing and Difference” for an audio CD.
Dennis Hopper reading “The Origin of Geometry” would be great too!
Actually, I would really like to watch the Blue Man Group do an instrumental interpretation of Foucault’s “Madness and Civilization.”

~Lee

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DarylDarko March 31, 2008 at 12:42 am

Valis, by Philip K. Dick… starring Christian Bale as “Horselover Fat”.

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Nathalie March 31, 2008 at 7:40 am

Difficult question. When you love a book so much, risks of being disappointed in the movie adaptation are way too high.
Having said that, I would love to see the “Good Omens” version that Terry Gilliam might one day put together – provided someone find the man a vast amount of money. Not so sure about the actors, even if I always saw Jeremy Irons as Arziraphale. The rest of the cast would be a tad shaddy (Maybe Jeff Goldblum for Crowley? Don’t know…) .

What I would love dearly to see as movie is “A Pretty Girl”…

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terrybain March 31, 2008 at 9:31 am

I’d like to see Natalie Portman in just about anything. But maybe what I’d really like to see is a movie version of Dinosaur’s Binkit. You know, they just don’t make enough movies out of board books. Also Snuggle Puppy and The Going to Bed Book. And yes, Natalie Portman should be featured in all of those movies.

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SusanHenderson March 31, 2008 at 12:32 pm

Hey, great to see some faces here again. Was missing this place.

I didn’t know Lulu was optioned – congratulations!

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SusanHenderson March 31, 2008 at 12:34 pm

I agree with all the hesitation about filming great books. I’ve always been about the words and sentences, and that will never translate to film. (I could do without Foucault, I think.)

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SusanHenderson March 31, 2008 at 12:35 pm

I’ll bet his books have all been optioned. Wonder how a person checks on that?

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SusanHenderson March 31, 2008 at 12:37 pm

“Good Omens” is Mr. H’s favorite book. Good casting! Have you read the script for A Sheyne Meydl?

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SusanHenderson March 31, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Hee. I didn’t know you had an obsession, t. Love the new comments dealie over there on the left. Very nice!

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Nathalie March 31, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Only the treatment but I loved it.

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DarylDarko March 31, 2008 at 2:03 pm

Well, there are only two new PKD films in production; Radio Free Albemuth (novel) and The Owl in Daylight (bio-pic). The dude wrote 44 novels and some of those movies are from short stories. Only nine films have been made so far. I have not heard of plans for “Valis” being made into a film yet, although it was produced as an opera in 1987.

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Kimberly March 31, 2008 at 2:14 pm

**blushing**

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Aurelio March 31, 2008 at 2:39 pm

My answer to this week’s question both obvious and terribly selfish.

Hey, I may be able to go to Steve’s reading! Cool.

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Aurelio March 31, 2008 at 2:40 pm

I agree!

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Nathalie March 31, 2008 at 2:57 pm

But who would you like for your characters?

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Doug March 31, 2008 at 3:15 pm

The Catcher in the Rye

Holden Caulfied- Kieran Culkin
Ackley- Josh Peck
Stradlater- Jake Gylenhaal
Phoebe Caulfied- NOT DAKOTA FANNING!
Sally- Jena Malone or Evan Rachel Wood
Sunny- Chloe Sevigny
Mr. Spencer- Hal Holbrook

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Aurelio March 31, 2008 at 5:27 pm

That’s hard to say, because getting a through the “development” process takes about half-a-century, and everyone in my book needing to appear in their genetic prime, casting it now would be pointless. A while back I thought John Cusack would be a good Govil, with Joan playing his mother, but now they’re both too old. And I like Sandra Bullock for Eve.

And perhaps Tim Gunn for Pentser.

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Dennis Mahagin March 31, 2008 at 6:26 pm

I’d like to see the novel Stoner, by John Williams, made into a movie. Gary Oldman would be my pick to play both Young Professor Stoner and Old Professor Stoner.

;)–D

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Noria March 31, 2008 at 9:03 pm

I wrote a little about how I imagine the movie of my book at a blog called My Book, The Movie:
http://mybookthemovie.blogspot.com/2007/04/noria-jablonskis-human-oddities.html

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SusanHenderson March 31, 2008 at 9:17 pm

My favorite translator ever died this week. : (

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89248513

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SusanHenderson March 31, 2008 at 9:21 pm

That’s great, Noria. Hope everyone’s checking out the link. (I had no idea someone had made a movie of A.M. Home’s stories. Wish they’d do Mistress’s Daughter.

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SusanHenderson March 31, 2008 at 9:22 pm

I don’t know this book. I’ll have to keep a look out.

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SusanHenderson March 31, 2008 at 9:22 pm

I like this one. Also, you made me laugh.

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SusanHenderson March 31, 2008 at 9:23 pm

Who would do special effects for you?

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SusanHenderson March 31, 2008 at 9:24 pm

I hope you go see Steve read!

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SusanHenderson March 31, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Wow, you have the inside scoop.

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djtuffpuppy March 31, 2008 at 9:28 pm

Ok, since they are already making The Time Traveler’s Wife in to a film I will go will my second choice for a book-turned-movie: Abarat by Clive Barker. With either Natalie Portman or Ellen Page as Candy Quackenbush. And Christopher Carrion should be played by Johnny Depp.

Also, welcome back. There was a Litpark shaped hole in my life this month.

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lance_reynald March 31, 2008 at 9:53 pm

they make them into movies??

sheesh. who’d a thunk it.

and is it my imagination or did you just say Jenna Jameson for like the second time this year?

I’ll be back…

xoxo.

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terrybain March 31, 2008 at 10:22 pm
jonathanevison March 31, 2008 at 10:34 pm

. . . thanks, susan! . . . i optioned lulu to crossroads films (the folks who made “igby goes down”) . . . looks as though they intend to move forward . . .hopefully i’ll have some more news by the time the book is released in july . . .

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Carolyn_Burns_Bass April 1, 2008 at 12:42 am

You’ve been in my thoughts all month, Sue. Here’s to the final stretch. Hugs.

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Carolyn_Burns_Bass April 1, 2008 at 12:53 am

Oh, yeah. The Question of the Month: I would love to see Susan Straight’s A MILLION NIGHTINGALES made into a film with Halle Berry in the adult role of Moinette.

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terrybain April 1, 2008 at 1:44 am

I don’t know what I was trying to say here. Anybody know? Empty posts by myself make me nervous. Like maybe my two-year-old is logging on and surfing for pictures of topless tractors.

Sigh.

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Nathalie April 1, 2008 at 2:24 am

Fun musings (and that’s even without having read the book).

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Aurelio April 1, 2008 at 10:27 am

Ha – authors have zero say over what happens to their books once they are optioned, but in a perfect universe where everyone treats me like I’m Stephen King II, I’d have many good choices. Then I could have Terry Gilliam or Tim Burton (a Cal Arts alum, BTW) direct it. For animation director I’d want Randy Cook, EFX – John Van Vliet (CalARTS), Production design – Rick Heinrichs (CalARTS).

Reality is, it will probably be made in Bollywood for about 50 cents and not resemble my book in the least. (EVE the Musical would be fun though, huh?)

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Aurelio April 1, 2008 at 10:28 am

I’m sure gonna try.

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Nathalie April 1, 2008 at 11:00 am

If made in Bollywwod it would have great music and dance scenes!

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robinslick April 1, 2008 at 12:59 pm

The Catcher in the Rye would have been my choice, too, but Salinger is vehemently opposed to it ever happening and I’m sure his Will is set up to reflect that, too. Now that I think about it, I kind of agree with his decision though it would be an interesting film based on Holden’s hatred of Hollywood and phonies, huh.

Too funny about Dakota Fanning….

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Doug April 1, 2008 at 1:10 pm

have you seen the film IGBY GOES DOWN? highly recommended.

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robinslick April 1, 2008 at 1:51 pm

No, but since you are writing to give me a heads up, I will make it a
priority.

How’re you doing?

xo

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SusanHenderson April 1, 2008 at 3:06 pm

I don’t know what I think of authors guarding their work like that. I think Beckett did the same with his plays – you can produce them but there’s no creative license given to set and costume designers. Catcher in the Rye would make a fabulous movie, and imagine how different it would be with different directors.

(Would you kill me if I invite Paul Green to your reading?)

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SusanHenderson April 1, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Okay, this is driving me crazy. Doug Who?

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SusanHenderson April 1, 2008 at 3:07 pm

That’s so sweet. Thank you.

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SusanHenderson April 1, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Who’s doing Time Traveler’s Wife? I’ll be excited to see what they do with it.

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SusanHenderson April 1, 2008 at 3:09 pm

A little bird told me you are incredible, gracious, energetic, lovely, and smart.

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SusanHenderson April 1, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Did you notice we have little stars? I like that. It’s like doing a good job on a fingerpainting project.

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SusanHenderson April 1, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Yes, Aurelio’s book should have some dance scenes, for sure!

What’s the movie with Jeff Goldblum and they’re doing Elephant! – a musical version of The Elephant Man? I love that movie.

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SusanHenderson April 1, 2008 at 3:13 pm

Be sure to announce everything here, okay?

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robinslick April 1, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Yes. Yes, I would.

And Paul would probably kill you himself if I didn’t get to you first. I cannot picture Paul being able to sit quietly anywhere and I do not want to witness him becoming unglued while I try and keep my own sick self together.

Sadly, I will not be reading fiction but a brand new — just finishing it up now, actually — essay on a recent strange and traumatic turn of events which will either (hopefully) elicit laughs or have people running as far from me and my rotten mojo as possible.

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SusanHenderson April 1, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Ha! Glad I asked.

Kimberly and I will be your laugh-track at the reading. You just give us the signal and we’ll get hysterical.

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Kimberly April 1, 2008 at 3:34 pm

When is the reading? (she says, crossing her fingers that it is NOT this weekend and vaguely remembers the 14th floating around her cloudy brain…)

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Kimberly April 1, 2008 at 3:42 pm

I suppose I oughta answer this question, even though I’ve been avoiding it… But to be honest, so many lovely books have been ruined for me, I now have this firm rule: If I want to read the book and see the movie (Tish Cohen’s TOWN HOUSE is a perfect example) I actually will withhold reading the book until I see the film.

That way, I can sit back and enjoy the film without getting all snarky about how someone ruined it. Case in point – you couldn’t pay me to see either THE KITE RUNNER or ATONEMENT last year, after MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA was such a disappointment.

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EkEkEkEk07 April 1, 2008 at 3:52 pm

i’m doug! i wasn’t logged in. i’m doug and my favorite book is the catcher in the rye. heheh!

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djtuffpuppy April 1, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Directed by Robert Schwentke (he did Flightplan) and staring Eric Bana (The Other Boleyn Girl) and Rachel McAdams (The Notebook).

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chuckles April 1, 2008 at 4:13 pm

Hey, welcome back – if ony for the short term! This is a really interesting question, and the answers have given me much to think about. My favorite action story is in production now – The Watchmen (even though it’s a graphic novel, it’s definitely *literature*!). I just hope it meets my exacting standards…. There’s a Joseph Conrad novel called The Secret Agent, about bomb-throwing anarchists in London, that would make a great film, and there’s a Rushdie story for children called Haroun and the Sea of Stories that would be a kick-ass animated feature. I’m not too good with actors’ names so I’d just cast myself in both projects and let wiser minds fill in the rest of the dramatis personae.

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robinslick April 1, 2008 at 4:17 pm

Hey, Kim, nope, you aren’t getting off that easy – it’s next Monday, April 14 at the Boxcar Lounge. I’ll be posting billboards around the internet shortly, fear not.

I am having Disqus issues today – really weird – the last comments came to me as emails to which I replied and then lo and behold, they are actually posted here as well. Good thing I didn’t say anything nasty about anyone! Ha. I think I just figured out that my profile settings were somehow changed to notify me of comments here via email which trust me, I do not want since I already spend enough time playing in the park! So to Doug, that’s why my reply appeared to be “personal” even though I don’t know who you are, either – I thought you sent me a private email.

Sheesh. i am such a dork..

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Kimberly April 1, 2008 at 4:38 pm

Ah good! I did remember it correctly! YAY!

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robinslick April 1, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Oh, me, too. Reading that book at age eleven (and again and again throughout my teens) was the turning point in my life when I knew I wanted to be a writer.

It also made me love first person and to this day I can’t get really into said writing unless I attack it from that angle even if it means writing an entire novel in first person and then changing it over to third. It’s crazy but even after all these years I still think I’m the female Holden…

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jessicaK April 1, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Susan, a brief welcome back!! I’m glad you’re getting the work done. What I read is gorgeous and brilliant. Lucky readers await!

As for your question: truthfully, I don’t really wish for one book to be made into a movie. Is that odd? I don’t know. Maybe it is. My best reading experiences are somewhat like my best movie experiences. My whole body is involved–crying, laughing, nail biting, the entire adrenaline wave to the finish.

Jessica

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Betsy April 1, 2008 at 6:52 pm

Yay! A moment with litpark! And yay for me because I got to meet real life Sue and she’s every bit as adorable and wonderful in person.

Fun question! I have trouble with a lot of adaptations – there’s a really short list of ones I think are so great (The Sweet Hereafter, In the Bedroom among them) but a lot of others I wish I’d never seen. Of course, my mind immediately goes to the movie(s) of my book, and I have sold the rights to one story to a director I couldn’t be more thrilled about, should I be so lucky that it gets made one day. But actresses to play my characters: Catherine Keener, Lili Taylor, Maggie Gyllenhall, and my new favorite, Anna Friel, for whom I’d write a movie myself if I had the time. I’m sure I’m forgetting some others I love. Actors for various boyfriend/husband parts: Robert Downey, Jr., John Krasinski, and of course, Owen Wilson could play himself.
I would love to see any adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s stuff, and I hear John Krasinski’s on top of that already!

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EkEkEkEk07 April 1, 2008 at 8:48 pm

i am good. i applied to fairleigh dickinson’s mfa in creative writing program last week. waiting sucks! how are you?

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DarylDarko April 1, 2008 at 9:02 pm

You do know that Disney had bought the film rights to the Abarat series, right? And that two years ago that deal completely fell apart? I agree with your choices of leading women, tho I think Elle would probably be able to run further as Candy than Nat. Speaking of my favorite author, “Clive” ~ I’d love to see Imajica made into a film, despite the thoughts of many that it would simply be “unfilmable”.

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DarylDarko April 1, 2008 at 9:05 pm

You’d be surprised by all the things I know!

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djtuffpuppy April 1, 2008 at 9:15 pm

I don’t know if Disney was really the right choice to handle the Abarat films. Personally I think The Jim Henson Company is more fitting to make the film.

Also, wasn’t the book Perfume called unfilmable as well?

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terrybain April 1, 2008 at 11:56 pm

Yes, very nice, though what I think it means is that you and I are admins of the discussion. Or, er, the disqussion, as it were.

Carry on. And if I could give out real gold stars, I’d do that.

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Nathalie April 2, 2008 at 1:14 am

An equally incredible, gracious, energetic, lovely, and smart little bird from Chicago?

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Sbain April 2, 2008 at 7:03 am

Wow, it’s good to hear from folks. I would just like to GO to a movie some day again. Oh, and if I do go to a movie, I’d like to not fall asleep!

I saw Mamma Mia this weekend and thank goodness it was so upbeat because I kept nodding off and thinking I just paid $57.50 to take a nap in a dark opera house on a Sunday afternoon without any child prodding me. Luckily, I was able to shake most sleep off to watch it. And now at 4 a.m. with everyone snoring away, I’m wide awake.

They make movies, now right? Um, I mean beyond Barbie Diaries and Harry Potter and Super Why to the Rescue. Hurray!

At the moment, it’s not the what, it’s the who. Johnny Depp. I’d watch him in anything. Meryl Streep. Oh and yes, I can’t wait to see what the do to Time Traveller’s Wife. But I’m torn between wanting to see the movie and not being disappointed.

Finally, um, I did not know T liked Natalie Portman so much. hmmmm…

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Kimberly April 2, 2008 at 9:46 am

Betsy: Do you know John Krasinski is directing a version of DFW’s “Brief Interviews With Hideous Men”?

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Betsy April 2, 2008 at 3:12 pm

I do, that’s what I meant by on top of it! I’m pretty excited about it.

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DaveClapper April 2, 2008 at 5:14 pm

I’d love to see David James Duncan’s “The River Why” onscreen. It looks like someone’s already beating me to it, though: http://theriverwhy.com/

Hurt’s not a bad choice to play H2O, although I have a hard time imagining him playing the younger H2O during his courting days. He seems to be the only actor listed there so far. Freddy Hightower would be amazing as Gus’s kid brother. Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) would make a good Gus. Jessica Lange as Gus’s mom? Both Hurt and Lange would’ve been better choices about ten years ago… And it’d be great to get Duncan himself to play the fisher/philosopher with the sheepdog, but if he wouldn’t be up for it, I’d be happy to cast myself. :)

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