Saturday, October 1, 2016

Colin Gigl's "The Ferryman Institute"

In Colin Gigl's debut novel, The Ferryman Institute--
Ferryman Charlie Dawson saves dead people—somebody has to convince them to move on to the afterlife, after all. Having never failed a single assignment, he's acquired a reputation for success that’s as legendary as it is unwanted. It turns out that serving as a Ferryman is causing Charlie to slowly lose his mind. Deemed too valuable by the Ferryman Institute to be let go and too stubborn to just give up in his own right, Charlie’s pretty much abandoned all hope of escaping his grim existence. Or he had, anyway, until he saved Alice Spiegel.
Here Gigl dreamcasts an adaptation of The Ferryman Institute:
Oh, boy -- straight into the dream zone with this one, eh? This is going to be total flight-of-fancy stuff, but here goes.

Director: Spielberg for me. He handles whimsy and fantastical stories as well as more grounded ones, and since The Ferryman Institute is a bit of both, I think it'd be right in his wheelhouse.

For Charlie, I've always had a soft-spot for Chris Pratt. I think he has a wonderful balance of comedy and earnestness that I believe are Charlie's core tenants. Nathan Fillion would be great for those same reasons.

Alice is tougher as I feel like the current crop of leading ladies is inordinately talented. Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Emma Watson... I think all of them would bring a fascinating take on Alice to the table. As a character, she has a dry, morbid view of life burying a little glimmer of hope she's holding on to, and I could see all those actresses bringing that out on screen.
Visit Colin Gigl's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Catherine A. Honeyman's "The Orderly Entrepreneur"

Catherine A. Honeyman is Visiting Scholar at the Duke Center for International Development and Managing Director of Ishya Consulting. Here she shares her idea for casting an adaptation of the book:
Picture an aerial shot of Kigali's rolling green hills after the genocide, panning down to a dirt road covered in a layer of orange dust. An adolescent boy takes a passenger on his motorcycle and collects the fare. Down the road, another boy sells grilled corn from a curbside stool. A girl hawks telephone airtime to passersby. A young man carries a bundle of chickens who seem passively resigned to their fate. Another boy hoists a cardboard box aloft, packed full of tissues and sweets for sale.

Pocketing their earnings, these young Rwandans set off to buy pens and notebooks, pay school fees, and shrug on their uniforms, joining thousands of other Rwandan schoolchildren on the trek to school.

Flash forward and we see government offices where new policies are being discussed, plans to create a generation of more entrepreneurial Rwandan youth. Curriculum developers debate the definitions students will need to memorize, the regulations they will need to master, in a new Rwanda with a progressive vision of orderly development. A Rwanda in which the street-side lemonade stand wouldn’t be an iconic image of youthful business initiative—it would be disorderly conduct, plain and simple.
So begins The Orderly Entrepreneur when I imagine it as a movie, following these young people through their efforts to earn school fees so they can get a better job one day, and following policy-makers and teachers through their efforts to teach a well-regulated form of self-reliance.

I would cast the whole team from Africa United—that ingenious little film about a journey to see the World Cup—to tell this story. Roger Nsengiyumva, Eriya Ndayambaje, Sherrie Silver, Sanyu Joanita Kintu, and Yves Dusenge would be perfect for portraying Rwanda’s ordinary and extraordinary young people who don’t go to school to learn entrepreneurship—they are entrepreneurs just in order to go to school.
Visit Catherine Honeyman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

David O. Stewart's "The Babe Ruth Deception"

David O. Stewart is the author of several works of history, including Madison’s Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America, which have been awarded the Washington Writing Award and the Society of the Cincinnati History Prize. His Fraser and Cook mystery novels are The Lincoln Deception, The Wilson Deception, and the newly released The Babe Ruth Deception.

Here Stewart dreamcasts an adaptation of The Babe Ruth Deception:
Since this is the third book in my Jamie Fraser/Speed Cook series of historical mysteries, I’m already on record that William Hurt is a natural for Dr. Fraser and Denzel Washington would kill in the juicy Speed Cook role as a washed-up ballplayer with an attitude.

But what about the Babe? In two major movies featuring the Babe, he was portrayed wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. William Bendix in The Babe Ruth Story was clueless and unathletic, while John Goodman in The Babe was obese and twenty years too old.

In The Babe Ruth Deception, Babe is 25 years old, a prime physical specimen, arguably the finest athlete to play baseball for a couple of generations. No more fat, dopey actors playing the Babe.

In his younger days, Joe Don Baker would have been a great Babe Ruth – large and powerful, with a broad face that could be intimidating or charming. But Joe Don’s eighty years old.

My best candidate today is Chris Pratt, who was brilliant in the TV sitcom Parks and Recreation. Pratt actually portrayed a first baseman in Moneyball. He’s got the size and the physicality (he was a high school wrestler) and the acting chops to capture the Babe’s unique mixture of naivete, gusto, and street smarts.

We can’t forget the bad guys. For underworld gambling kingpin Arnold Rothstein – the man who fixed the 1919 World Series – we couldn’t do better than Michael Stuhlbarg, who portrayed Rothstein on the HBO Series Boardwalk Empire. If Stuhlbarg can’t face another turn in the role, Kevin Spacey can play anything, even Keyser Soze.

Finally, what to do about Abe Attell, Rothstein’s right-hand man, former flyweight champion of the world? He needs to be small but scary. Where’s Joe Pesci when you need him most? Maybe Giovanni Ribisi. With an edge.
Learn more about the book and author at David O. Stewart's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Wilson Deception.

The Page 69 Test: The Wilson Deception.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Michelle Brafman's "Bertrand Court"

Michelle Brafman is the author of Washing the Dead. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, Tablet, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Slate, Lilith Magazine, the minnesota review, and elsewhere. She teaches fiction writing at the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing Program and lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.

Here Brafman dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Bertrand Court:
Of course, I’d be thrilled to see Bertrand Court made into a movie, but I’d be equally happy to for Netflix or Amazon to morph these linked stories into something delicious and binge-worthy. Think of a series with the tension and emotional complexity of The Americans and the premise of Knots Landing or Melrose Place, where all of the characters are connected via a common space, in this case a suburban Washington, DC cul-de-sac.

Bertrand Court will only work as an ensemble series with a large cast, so I’ll tackle the bigger parts first. I’ll start with Hannah, the volatile, hormonally challenged, emerging matriarch of the Solonsky family. Lizzy Caplan would make a heck of a Hannah Solonsky because they share a strength and crazy intensity that ripples beneath their perfect diction and birdlike frames. Hannah’s husband Danny calls for an actor with Paul Rudd’s stock good looks, affability, and ever-present sense of irony. Sandra Bullock could easily play Amy Solonsky, Hannah’s artsy sister, the self-proclaimed family fuck-up who in fact holds the tightest grip on reality. I’d cast Paul Giamatti as Eric Solonsky, Hannah and Amy’s genetically pudgy, unconventionally brilliant brother who marries Maggie Stramm, the ex-cheerleader who would never have given him a second glance in high school. The insufferable Maggie (played by Julie Bowen) marries Eric to bug her mother and prove that she’s neither anti-Semitic nor shallow. Truly, she’s not. The unapologetically exuberant Amanda Peet could play Hannah’s best friend, Becca Coopersmith, a seeker who throws herself into pole dancing and women’s drum circles. She’s wed to the dreamy and devoted Adam Kornfeld who might have contracted gonorrhea from one of the many characters who sleeps with Phil Scott, the Bertrand Court Lothario and sexy ugly photographer who can tap souls, but only through his viewfinder (played by a young David Caruso). As for Adam, who does dreamy, devoted, and unlucky better than Mark Ruffalo? He’ll be thrilled to learn that he’s in.
Visit Michelle Brafman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 23, 2016

Don Bruns's "Casting Bones"

Don Bruns is an award-winning novelist, songwriter, musician and advertising executive who lives in South Florida. He is the author of five Mick Sever Caribbean mysteries, and seven Lesser and Moore mysteries.

Here Bruns dreamcasts the lead for an adaptation of his new novel, Casting Bones, the first book in a new series:
The protagonist in Casting Bones is Quentin Archer. Q is a homicide detective who is forced out of the Detroit Police force. His wife has been murdered, and the baggage he carries is sizable. Drawing a high-profile murder of a judge as one of his first assignments he finds himself under immense pressure to solve the murder in record time. He is helped by a young, attractive voodoo queen.

The actor I had in mind to play the detective is John Krasinski who had a starting role in TV’s The Office. I find him to be a very talented actor who has been grossly underutilized. Krasinski plays sarcasm well, has a warmth that draws viewers to his character and I detect the sadness and empathy that would be important to the character. If anyone knows him…send him a copy of Casting Bones!
Learn more about the book and author at Don Bruns' website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Caroline Leavitt's "Cruel Beautiful World"

Caroline Leavitt is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow, Pictures of You, Girls In Trouble, and other books.

Here Leavitt dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Cruel Beautiful World:
When I start to write a novel, I always tape up photos of people I think would be the characters. Mostly I use ordinary photos, from Humans of New York, usually. While I was writing Cruel Beautiful World, set in the 60s and the 70s, I thought of one actress for Lucy, the wild young 17-year-old who runs off with her older English teacher to a supposed back-to-the-land paradise which turns into a nightmare, I put up a shot of actress Julie Garner (Julie, I hope you are listening!) because she has the exact right vulnerability and impulsiveness. And she looks like a child of the sixties! For Iris, who thinks her life is over when she turns 80, and instead, she finds something extraordinary, I want Ellen Burstyn because how could I possibly not want her? And for Charlotte, who is forever trying to fix things and messing up, Emmy Rossum, who has that frenetic kind of determination and also looks like she could easily be 1960’d up!

And of course, I want to play a waitress in the film. I have always wanted to roll my eyes and say, “You want fries or don’t you?”
Learn more about the book and author at Caroline Leavitt's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Pictures of You.

My Book, the Movie: Pictures of You.

The Page 69 Test: Is This Tomorrow.

My Book, The Movie: Is This Tomorrow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 19, 2016

Marina Budhos's "Watched"

Marina Budhos is the author of award-winning fiction and nonfiction. Her novels for young adults are Tell Us We’re Home and Ask Me No Questions. Her nonfiction books include Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers and Sugar Changed the World, which she cowrote with her husband, Marc Aronson.

Here Budhos shares some insights about an adaptation of her new novel, Watched:
I have the happy circumstance of saying my book is being made into a film. Or, at the very least, it has been optioned and a filmmaker is currently writing the screenplay. However, for this very reason, we’re not right now ‘naming’ actors. Instead I can talk about what I think the film could be like:

I see the movie of Watched as pushing even further than the popular Night of HBO series (which obsessed many of this summer). That is, I think an adaptation of my novel is a chance to go even deeper into a Queens Muslim immigrant community, to get to know them better, from the inside, and to especially get to know a male teenager negotiating the gritty urban streets of the city. I’d love the film to feel like a plunge, a filmic odyssey, seen from the inside out in the paranoid swirl of surveillance.

I will say that I’d like Taylor, the detective, to be a recognized actor who can play someone all-American but who has another game and agenda going on with my main character, Naeem. My main character Naeem could be played by either a professional actor or even a non-actor, a discovery. The film needs to have a gritty, realistic feel.
Visit Marina Budhos's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Kenneth D. Ackerman's "Trotsky in New York, 1917"

Kenneth D. Ackerman has made old New York a favorite subject in his writing, including his critically acclaimed biography Boss Tweed: The Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York. Beyond his writing, Ackerman has served a long legal career in Washington, D.C. both inside and out of government, including as counsel to two U.S. Senate committees, regulatory posts in both the Reagan and Clinton administrations, and as administrator of the Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency. He continues to practice private law in Washington.

Here Ackerman dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest book, Trotsky in New York, 1917: Portrait of a Radical on the Eve of Revolution:
Playing Leon Trotsky would be a fabulous role for an actor should they make my book, Trotsky in New York, 1917, into a film. Two other major Trotsky movies have been made in America, both featuring top stars in the lead role: Richard Burton in The Assassination of Leon Trotsky (1972) and Geoffrey Rush in Frida (2002). But both these films showed Trotsky as an older man in Mexico in the late 1930s. My book presents him twenty years earlier, as a rising 38-year-old in his prime. So the role demands a younger actor.

My favorites, were they still available, would be the Maximilian Schell of Judgment at Nuremburg, or perhaps the Gene Wilder of Young Frankenstein, or one of Trotsky’s own favorites, Charlie Chaplin – though they’d need to make the movie a silent non-talkie to best capture Chaplin’s zany intensity. Errol Flynn too comes to mind, though he’d have to dye his hair black for the role.

Realistically, making the film today in 2016, I’d push for a younger, less-known actor who could reimagine Trotsky afresh. Best would be a young Russian star who could attract a young Russian audience. Trotsky might be a global icon, but he is largely unrecognized to his own country. Dictator Joseph Stalin spent thirty years literally erasing Trotsky from the country’s history, removing his face and name from photographs and accounts of major events. For most Russians today, his is a vague blur.

Young Russians deserve a chance to learn their own history and heritage, and what better way than through a good film.
Visit Kenneth Ackerman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 15, 2016

John Keyse-Walker's "Sun, Sand, Murder"

John Keyse-Walker practiced law for 30 years, representing business and individual clients, educational institutions and government entities. He is an avid salt- and freshwater angler, a tennis player, kayaker and an accomplished cook. He lives in Ohio with his wife.

Here Keyse-Walker dreamcasts an adaptation of Sun, Sand, Murder, his first book:
I must confess that I visualized actors playing the main roles in Sun, Sand, Murder while writing, from the very first word of the first draft. To me, having the mental image of a certain actor playing your character helps to shape the character.

There are many unique secondary characters in the book, whom I envision being played by quality character actors whose faces are familiar, but whose names are not household names. Here are my selections for the main characters:

Denzel Washington as Teddy Creque. Denzel is old enough to play the slightly-worn-around-the-edges protagonist, yet still young enough to carry off the steamy scenes with his mistress, Cat Wells.

Halle Berry as Cat Wells. Like Cat, Berry is a woman of a certain age but what a woman - strong, sexy, and manipulative. And Denzel and Halle have never appeared in a film together, reason enough to put her in this role.

Johnny Depp as Anthony Wedderburn, De White Rasta. The role as the ganja-smoking expat British aristocrat who affects Rastafarian speech and blond dreadlocks was made for the man.

Octavia Spencer as Icilda Creque. The veteran actress has the chops to play Teddy’s church-lady wife in a role any actress would savor.

Finally, the pristine island of Anegada in the British Virgin Islands must be the setting for the movie. In the book, the island itself is almost a character, and it’s a must for an on-location shoot of the film.
Visit John Keyse-Walker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Robert Wilder's "Nickel"

Robert Wilder is the author of a novel, Nickel, and two critically acclaimed essay collections, Tales From The Teachers’ Lounge and Daddy Needs A Drink, both optioned for television and film.

A teacher for twenty-five years, Wilder has earned numerous awards and fellowships, including the inaugural Innovations in Reading Prize by the National Book Foundation. He has published essays in Newsweek, Details, Salon, Parenting, Creative Nonfiction, plus numerous anthologies and has been a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition.

Here Wilder dreamcasts an adaptation of Nickel:
I live a seven-minute walk from two great theaters in Santa Fe’s Railyard District: George RR Martin’s historic Jean Cocteau and the state-of-the-art Violet Crown. I see at least one movie a week and was lucky enough to attend the South by Southwest film festival this year in Austin. During South by Southwest, I saw the premiere of Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special starring a terrific young actor, Jaeden Lieberher who, in my opinion, would make a terrific Coy, the main character in my novel Nickel. Lieberher really captured the subtleties of being an (very) odd kid stuck in the middle of a variety of odd adults. In Nickel, Coy’s mom is in rehab and he lives with a slightly inept stepdad. His teachers are of little help as he tries to navigate a challenging life that only gets trickier. Even though Coy does not possess supernatural powers like the character of Alton does in Midnight Special, I think Lieberher would make a fine Coy.

I really liked Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl, one of my favorite films of 2015. The film is based on the Phoebe Gloeckner’s classic graphic novel by the same name. Powley would be perfect for the role of Monroe, Coy’s quirky friend who falls ill from heavy metal poisoning from her braces. Monroe is very smart, very funny, and, until she gets sick, dresses in clothes inspired by Anime and Manga. Her persona is only really understood by Coy, so she gets teased incessantly even before a mysterious rash appears around her mouth.

There is a terrific young cast in Richard Linklater’s hysterical new film Everybody Wants Some. She’s probably too old to play Coy’s love interest Avree (as is Bel Powley playing Monroe), but I could see an actor like Zoey Deutch playing her. Avree is the girl who can hang out with the so-called popular crowd, but has far more humor, depth and empathy. She connects with Coy on an emotional level even though they live on two different social planets.

Since Nickel is set during Coy’s ninth grade year, there are many secondary characters that would be fun to cast. (I really love films with casts of mostly unknowns but, for the sake of this exercise, I’ll choose known actors.) Coy’s stepdad is a good and flawed boy/man who never expected to be a single father. Dan could be played by the ever-likeable Paul Rudd. I could see Stephen Root of Office Space fame to take on Coy’s goofball and disconnected science teacher, Mr. Beakman. I loved Kristen Wiig in the brilliant Welcome to Me, and she would do well in the role of the hippie/new age school counselor, Ms. Sunday. Finally, Dianne Wiest would be too old for Coy’s mother, but I’d love someone of her caliber to tackle a hyper-sensitive parent unable to reenter the real world just yet.
Visit Robert Wilder's website and Facebook page.

The Page 99 Test: Daddy Needs A Drink.

--Marshal Zeringue