Thursday, June 05, 2008

Official Press Release for TOML Film Announcement!

Whoohoo! More info should be coming tomorrow or Monday in the papers. I'll update the blog accordingly. There is also another blog post below this one, so keep scrolling. (Two posts in one day!)


Project to Serve as First Collaboration between TWC and Producer Meryl Poster

NEW YORK, NY (June 3, 2008) -- The Weinstein Company announced today it has acquired the worldwide film rights to Allison Winn Scotch's second novel TIME OF MY LIFE. Book was brought to TWC by Meryl Poster of Superb Entertainment. Poster, former president of production at Miramax, has a long-standing relationship with the Weinsteins having played a key role in classic adaptations such as "Emma," "Cider House Rules," " Chocolat" and "Cold Mountain." This project marks their first collaboration with TWC since Poster's Superb Entertainment struck a first look deal with NBC Universal in 2005. Superb Entertainment's head of development, Kate Schumaecker, brought the project to Meryl Poster who passed it on to Kelly Carmichael, svp production and casting at TWC. The announcement was made today by Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company.

TIME OF MY LIFE is the story of a thirty-something housewife who is at an emotional crossroad in her marriage and gets the chance to go back in time to squelch those tiny, lingering doubts that send women googling old friends and exes or wistfully pulling out pictures of days gone by.

"We are thrilled to be finally working again with Meryl and thankful she has brought us this incredible project," stated Harvey Weinstein, "Scotch's writing is both outright honest and at the same time comically engaging. She provides a strong female voice with characters that easily relate to the screen. Considering our strong track record with Meryl, we are very excited to begin moving this project forward. There is no finer film executive that can single out talent and maximize theatrical potential."

Meryl Poster added, "What struck me about this project is that it speaks to women who have reached a very specific and self-reflective moment in their lives. The material is both relatable and romantic with a fabulous starring role for an actress."

"I am honored to be working with Meryl on this project as she is known for her passionate, hands-on approach to filmmaking," stated Allison Winn Scotch. "I am thrilled at the prospect of TIME OF MY LIFE joining her incredible resume. What more could an author ask for? I feel like I died and went to Hollywood adaptation heaven."

Allison Winn Scotch's first book, THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND, was published by Harper Collins in 2007 and received widespread positive reviews. Her second novel, TIME OF MY LIFE, is being published by Random House and will be released in October 2008. Allison Winn Scotch is a frequent contributor to numerous consumer magazines, including Glamour, InStyle, Lifetime Television, Self, Shape, Woman's Day, USA Weekend, Men's Health and Women's Health. Scotch is also a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

Today's announcement comes on the heels of news from the 2008 Cannes Film Festival that TWC will be adapting Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist. Other projects being adapted for the screen by TWC include best-selling novels, such as "The Reader," "The Road," "Youth in Revolt" and "Wolf Boy."

Kelly Carmichael and Renee Witt, svp of production and development will be overseeing on behalf of TWC. Laine Kline, svp business and legal affairs negotiated the deal on behalf of TWC Sarah Self at Gersh represented the film rights.

Knowing My Strengths

Question of the week: Did you ever consider writing the screenplay yourself? I've been in similar shoes and instead of selling the rights to a production (albeit MUCH smaller than yours), I asked to take a stab at the screenplay myself. I've submitted one draft, received feedback and am now on round three or four. And yes, there are many days when I kick myself for not just selling the rights!

I didn't, not for one second, consider writing the screenplay myself. Which, I guess, might seem a little crazy. As my wise friend Laura Dave once said to me, "We really need to figure out how to write screenplays because that's where the money is!" Ha! And she's right, of course. You'll earn a lot more money on the deal terms if you adapt your own book, not to mention probably have a truer version (in most cases) of the adaptation.

But, eh, you know what? I just don't have any idea how to write a screenplay, and learning seems...daunting. I'm sure that I could read a few books and probably eke one out, but in many ways, I think I'm better off handing this over to someone who really rocks at creating a cinematic vision rather than pull together a scrappy version of what I might come up with. Another concern is that in some ways, I might be too close to this material. Obviously, not all aspects of a book can be included in the movie version, and what if I wanted to include certain aspects that are close to my heart but might not translate well on-screen? I'm not sure that I could toe that line. And since I've already written the best dialogue that I know how to come out of these characters' mouths, I also imagine I might have a hard time coming up with fresher, more movie-worthy chatter.

I dunno. It just seems hard. Writing a book is hard enough! Do I really need that challenge? :) One thing that I would certainly be open to is co-writing the screenplay alongside a pro, but since no one asked me, I guess that's not in the cards! Ha!

You know, maybe this sounds trite, but I'm really okay with passing it off to someone. I truly trust the producers on this project so much that I know that they'll put the material in good hands. Qualified hands. Which is more than I think I would be.

But readers, chime in - would you rather have a pro take a crack at your adaptation or do it yourself? Any personal experience with this?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Casting Call

Hee - I love how so many Ask Allison readers think exactly like I do: namely, they can't wait to cast their own novels and can't wait to hear how I'd like cast mine!

I should preface this post by saying that frankly, I'd be thrilled if anyone whose name I'd ever heard of would agree to be in an adaptation of my book. And I mean that. I also fully recognize that once you sign the rights away to your book and cash the check, you really lose all say. As I mentioned, I'm fortunate enough that the producers asked my opinion, and we were all on the same page, but still...if someone I never imagined as a character is cast...well, really, I won't complain. It falls under the category of "high class problem." And I try not to worry too much about those. I'm also not a casting director, who can see things in actors that I certainly can't.

But that doesn't mean I won't try!

So...answering your questions about how I would cast the movie is a little difficult because everything about this movie hinges around Jillian, the protagonist - different actresses would need different supporting players, and oddly enough, when I was writing the book, I never even pictured whom these actors would be. With The Department, I definitely did, but ironically enough, with this one...nope.

That said, as you guys know, I'm a devout Felicity fanatic, so I would absolutely squee to high heaven if we landed Keri Russell. In fact, I thought her final six episodes of the series, in which she goes back in time, were sheer perfection: her acting didn't get better than that, and she will forever have my girl-love for that (and the four seasons before that).

But certainly, there are other fabulous choices. The tricky part of this character is that she has to be both 27 and 34, and while that doesn't seem like THAT big a difference, it can be...and some wonderful actresses who can play 34 wouldn't be believable as 27, and vice versa. Jillian is this superficially perfect, desperately unhappy housewife who transforms herself into a breezier but still haunted 27 year old when she flashes backward. A few who I think could do it? Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Garner, Amy Adams, Rachel McAdams, Reese Witherspoon...who else? Chime in.

The other roles, as I said, all revolve around Jillian. Jack, her boyfriend in 2000, is that guy who so many of us dated at some point in our 20s: so close to what we think we need, sexy, kind, but maybe lacking that quality that we don't even realize we need. In the book, he's her escape (literally), and he's a good guy who doesn't quite have his world figured out, but who is good-looking enough (and sexy enough) to dupe others into ignoring that fact. If it weren't a full-out Felicity reunion, I'd be delighted with Scott Speedman. :) Robert Buckley, who is a hot piece of eye-candy on Lipstick Jungle would work. Ah, if only Timothy Olyphant were a bit younger, he'd be perfect because that man is the embodiment of sexy. (Though if they went with a slightly older actress, maybe he could work.) This is a toughie. Suggestions? This is why I'm not a casting director: I would just cast everyone from Felicity over and over again.

Henry, Jillian's husband when she's 34, is a classically handsome, straighter-laced kind of guy who has a quiet confidence about him that comforts and supports her. He's both her calming influence and also what undoes her: he's linear and rational, and gives her what she needs while simultaneously ignoring what she needs entirely. Again, casting the guys is so tough and so different for each potential-Jillian. But, I dunno, James Marsden? Patrick Wilson? Mark Ruffalo? Ben Affleck? Michael Vartan? Again, suggestions?

Jillian's boss is a 39-year old who has devoted her life to her work at the peril of her family (and because she has to be the primary bread-winner), and is sharply funny and sadly regretful. I'd love to see Catherine Keener, Laura Linney...anyone in that vein who can bring both snark and pathos to a character. There are SO MANY good actresses out there for this part.

Ditto Jillian's mom, who at about 55, has led a life of regret but also lived life to its fullest - leaving behind her family to find what she thinks is her true self. This role is entirely based on Jillian, so I can't even speculate.

Finally, the only person in the entire book about whom I DO have a clear vision is Jillian's dad, who has a gentle humor and a tender, wistful air about him, and for that, I think Jeff Bridges would be perfect.

But, as you can see, I'm game for just about any and every variation. As I said, I would be so flattered that any actor would even consider lending his or her time to this project that I really don't care so much!

But play along with me: which actors or actresses spring to mind when I describe the above roles? Jillian? Sexy, fun-loving Jack? Hard-working, but kind Henry? Lemme know!

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Next Steps

So more on film talk, since I got a lot of emails with questions and comments about the deal...which I think will be mentioned today or tomorrow in the trades. I'll post when/if I see some info.

A lot of people, I think, don't realize that while getting your film optioned is AMAZING, it is definitely NOT a guarantee that it will get made. What happens is this: a studio or production company buys the "option" to pursue the opportunity to develop your book for a designated amount of time, usually, in the case of film, 18 months. The very large majority of these options go nowhere. And I absolutely must and do keep this in mind. Someone on Backspace posted that she thought the percentage that actually get made is somewhere between 1% (if it's optioned by a production company that isn't attached to a studio) and 5% (if it's optioned with a studio deal). So, those are pretty sobering statistics.

That said, I have all sorts of reasons for being optimistic about this particular project moving ahead, not least that they are very, very actively looking to attach actors, writers, etc. Thus, they are moving forward, and hey, sometimes these projects do get made, and why shouldn't it be mine? This, coupled with a few other factors, has me feeling pretty good about where things stand right now.

But even so, even if it never gets made, I won't be disappointed. Here's why: in my opinion, this is a win-win situation. Not only do I get a very nice-sized check for doing absolutely nothing other than writing a book that I'd already written (and been paid for), but this announcement helps generate more buzz for the yet-to-be-released novel, which means that the sales teams, the foreign rights team, the marketing team, the PR team, the magazines who are reading galleys, etc, all take a little more interest in the book and might, just might, give it more promotion/review space/attention/bigger print run. I really can't lose, here.

So yes, I am feeling good about the chances of eventually seeing Time of My Life with a big old bucket of popcorn on my lap, but even if I don't, I can't say that I won't have won.

Tomorrow: we'll talk casting. :) (For all of you who have written to ask about my dream cast!)