December 29, 2005

Keira to Star In Silk

Digital Spy reports that British actress Keira Knightley will star as the wife of a French silkworm merchant who falls in love with a Japanese concubine in an adaptation of Alessandro Baricco's Silk, which takes place in the 1860s. --Kim

Hawke's Hottest State

Uma's ex, Gen Xer Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Before Sunset), will direct Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) in an adaptation of his coming-of-age novel The Hottest State, which was originally published in 1996. No word on who will play the male lead but shooting begins in January. Hawke previously directed the ensemble drama Chelsea Walls. More info here. --Kim

Brokeback Mountain, Etc.


Hope you all had a fabulous Christmas/Hanukkah! Along with It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas, I managed to watch several of my favorite adaptations over the holiday weekend including A Christmas Carol, A Room with a View, and Enchanted April. Just as with E.M. Forster's novel, I try to watch the film every so often because it never fails to inspire. I also saw Brokeback Mountain last night and it was incredible. Everything you've heard about this adaptation is true. The performances are remarkable. While Ang Lee’s film, based on an achingly wonderful short story by Annie Proulx, is breaking new ground by portraying a long-term affair between two men, the true appeal in the story is the agonizing pain of lovers who are forced apart by social and family pressure just as the most famous fictional star-crossed lovers in history, Romeo and Juliet. The film retains the intimacy of the short story while also managing to make it larger than life. It's one of the best and most moving films I've seen in ages. (Oh and Casanova is cute--a bit like Shakespeare in Love only without the clever dialogue--but Sienna Miller puts me to sleep.) --Kim

December 21, 2005

Homer Does History

Just caught the episode of the "The Simpsons" that spoofs off PBS's "1900 House." The family gets recruited by a reality network to live in a Victorian house where the only modern amenity is the video closet to record their daily thoughts. Homer accidentally wears a chamber pot on his head thinking it's an army helmet. Marge insists on having tampons despite the rules against having anything post "1890s" in the house. Later, the producers drop Squiggy from "Laverne & Shirley" in the house to liven things up. (He had a tazer gun.)

My favorite line is when Homer and Marge were lying in bed...
HOMER: "The kids are in bed...Maybe I could 'Wuther' your "Heights?'"

Gotta love it. -- Amy

December 20, 2005

Bynes to Remake Twelfth Night


In the grand tradition of Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles in10 Things I Hate about You (inspired by Taming the Shrew), Amanda Bynes will star as Viola in Dreamworks' upcoming She's the Man. For starters, couldn't they have come up with a better title? --Kim

December 14, 2005

Word To The G-Squared

Yes, I'm a day late and a dollar short with this post, but the Golden Globe nominations are out. I'd write more, but award shows bore me. Nevertheless, congrats to Keira Knightley who was nominated for best actress in a musical or comedy film. Here's what she had to say about being recognized.

Now on to more interesting things, like this clever imagining of Pride & Prejudice and King Kong by Joyce Wadler. --Amy

December 13, 2005

Aslan Is on the Move

I saw Narnia on Friday night and I must say, it was nothing less than thrilling. That moment when Lucy stumbles out of the wardrobe and into Narnia brought me back to the first time I read the book as a very young child who still believed something like that could actually happen. Mr. Tumnus the faun was absolutely perfect and the centaurs and Aslan looked fantastic. But be warned: this movie is, after all, a Disney film and made essentially for children. If you didn't read the book as a child, you might not find the film quite so entertaining. It's no secret that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan and there is still a part of me that would've liked to see what Peter Jackson would've done with Narnia. That said, Narnia lives up to the hype and I'm looking forward to the sequels. --Kim

Whereabouts: Ralph Fiennes


The latest Ralph Fiennes film sees the English Patient star portraying a sexy ex-diplomat who falls for The White Countess, Natasha Richardson, in 1930s Shanghai. Watch the trailer for the film, directed by James Ivory, here. --Kim

Is Cate In Or Out?

I'm still very confused as to whether or not Cate Blanchett will be reprising her Oscar-nominated role as "The Virgin Queen" in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," which is a sequel to the 1998 film, "Elizabeth." Variety reported it as fact earlier this year, stating that the movie would begin shooting in April 2006 with Geoffrey Rush again playing Sir Francis Walsingham and Clive Owen cast as explorer Sir Walter Raleigh.

However, in September, Blanchett suggested to the Australian Herald Sun that there was no project in the works, saying, "I'm really good friends with Shekhar Kapur (director) and he's forever saying he's going to do this movie or that movie and I think there was talk about it. There's so much there if it were to happen, but my initial instinct is, why (make it)?"

A quick check on IMDB.com links the movie to both Rush and Owen, but NOT to Blanchett herself. Hmmm. If anyone out there has the real scoop, let us know. -- Amy

December 12, 2005

"Brokeback" in Brief

Ang Lee was Charlie Rose's guest recently to talk about directing his latest film "Brokeback Mountain."

• In the interview, Lee says he didn't discuss the film's controversial subject matter with actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger. "My job was to downplay it," said Lee, who explained that the initial sex scene between the two men took 13 takes. (He chose take No. 7 for the film.)

• Lee said he chose the project as an antidote to his not-so-successful previous project, "Hulk." (He added that he'd prefer not to do any big-budget blockbuster-type flicks like that one ever again.)

• Before shooting this "post-Western" as he calls it, Lee accompanied author Annie Proulx (who wrote the short story this film is based on) on a tour of Wyoming. "She wanted to make sure that spirit was captured," explained the director. "I just wanted to do justice to this brilliant piece of writing. It's a great American love story."

• Lee told Rose that casting Ledger was an "educated guess."

• The Taiwanese-born director described the anticipation for this movie as a burden. "When people gear up to see a movie, that makes me nervous," he said. "In the end, I just hope this movie gets a fair shot."

Incidentally, Rose also recently interviewed Stephen Gaghan, the screenwriter for Syriana. The stories behind his research into this movie were utterly fascinating. If you happen to see him on any other programs, he's definitely worth listening to. -- Amy

December 9, 2005

First Glimpse: Marie Antoinette Trailer


Click here for an exclusive first look at Sofia Coppola's next movie Marie Antoinette. The trailer's soundtrack features New Order's "Age of Consent." --Kim

December 8, 2005

Maugham, Unveiled

Liev Schrieber, Naomi Watts and Ed Norton star in a new adaptation of the Somerset Maugham novel, "The Painted Veil" set for release next November. Set in the 1920s, the plot centers around a doctor and his adulterous wife who travel to a remote Chinese village to fight a cholera outbreak, all the while trying save their moribund marriage. Greta Garbo starred in the original 1934 film. -- Amy

December 5, 2005

Which is Better?

Time magazine compares some current and coming attractions with the books they're based on. See if you agree with their assessment. -- Amy

Julianne Moore in Alice Munroe Adaptation

Moore will star in a film version of Munroe's short story, "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage," about a nanny who falls in love with her charge's father. (Comingsoon.net) --Kim

December 1, 2005

The Nose Knows

Alan Rickman and Dustin Hoffman are among the cast of a German English-language production of "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" based on the book by Patrick Suskind. The novel tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a man with an extraordinary sense of smell and a dark obsession, set in 18th century France. Tom Twyker (of "Run Lola Run" fame) directs the film, which will be released in 2006. -- Amy

November 30, 2005

Between the Sheets

C.D. Payne's coming-of-age novel about a sixteen-year old trying to lose his virginity, Youth in Revolt, will begin production in '06 says Digital Spy. --Kim

November 22, 2005

Follow the Yellow Brick Road...

Think you know everything you need to about "The Wizard of Oz" after watching the movie 17,000 times growing up? "Studio 360" takes you over the rainbow to learn more about the life of Oz's literary creator, L. Frank Baum, the making of the film, and lots more. Click here to listen to the show, which includes reflections from Salman Rushdie, Neil LaBute and others. -- Amy

November 18, 2005

Pauper Production

A new adaptation of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper is in the works from producer Mark Gordon and screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher, reports ComingSoon.net. --Kim

Tiptoe through the Tulips

Dark Horizons reports that a Tom Stoppard adaptation of Tulip Fever will be rewritten by Peter Flannery and filmed in East Europe to save money. The adaptation was originally to star Keira Knightley but filming in Britian became too costly and production was halted. --Kim

November 14, 2005

Assault with a Dudley Weapon


Thanks to Amy's "VCR Alert" I caught Part 1 of Masterpiece Theatre's The Virgin Queen last night and it is sublime. The costumes, cinematography, and set decor are absolutely gorgeous. Anne-Marie Duff is magnificent as QE1, while Tom Hardy (Band of Brothers, Layer Cake, Marie-Antoinette) steals every scene as Robert Dudley, the queen's volatile and manipulative paramour. Frankly, if the Earl of Leicester had been half as hot in real life, he might've succeeded in his attempts to marry the queen. --Kim

November 12, 2005

"P&P" Naysayers....?

The Jane Austen Society apparently has their petticoats in a twist over the new "Pride & Prejudice" film starring Keira Knightley. Check out the controversy here.

I've seen the flick and I have to say I think they're way overreacting. Shocking yes, but even in Jane Austen's time, people DID think about sex and occasionally even engaged in it. Regardless, their ability to find lascivious sybolism in the film is a ridiculous stretch. Sometimes a pig is just a pig. -- Amy

VCR Alert

Is that the rousing cry of trumpets heralding the next Masterpiece Theater presentation? Why yes, indeed. Don't miss part one of The Virgin Queen this Sunday night at 9 p.m. on PBS. (Part two airs on Nov. 20th.) I'll be curious to see how this one rates next to the Cate Blanchett feature film. -- Amy

November 10, 2005

'Not That Into' This Idea

Drew Barrymore's production co., Flower Films, can now be held responsible for bringing "He's Just Not That Into You" (based on the bestseller of the same name) to a theater near you. From Zap2It:
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the storyline for the movie will involve an advise columnist who falls in love with one of the women who seeks his advice.
It sounds like an awful idea. So far neither Drew nor Adam Sandler are slated to star in the project. I'm thinking Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson? Or maybe Bill Murray and Lindsay Lohan? Your casting picks? --Kim

Keeping an Eye on Leo


Romancing the Tome reader Caryn passed on the news that Aviator star Leonardo DiCaprio's production company is planning to adapt Malcolm Gladwell's two best-selling works The Tipping Point and Blink for the big screen. The newly-single actor (yes, in case you haven't heard, he and his long-term love, model Gisele Bundchen, are splitzville) will purportedly star in the film. --Kim

November 9, 2005

Battle Over Bleak House (or Why We Love England)


Brits bicker over whether or not they'll bother to watch the new soap-opera style Bleak House on BBC. (Culture Vulture Blog, The Guardian UK) --Kim

from the Archives: Bleak House Gets Soaped

November 7, 2005

Moby-Dude

NPR's Studio 360 devoted an entire hour Sunday night to a discussion of Melville's Moby-Dick. By far, it's worth downloading a copy of playwright David Ives' hysterical (and strangely in depth) two-minute recap of the book as told from the perspective of a surfer dude. It's totally gnarly, man! -- Amy

Lost Wuthering Heights Adaptation

An early silent-screen version of Emily Bronte's novel of passion and lost love starred some of the most popular U.K. actors of the 1920s. BBC News reports that the long lost film is being pursued by The Bronte Parsonage Museum. The most famous WH adaptation, released in 1939, starred Laurence Olivier as the tormented Heathcliff. --Kim

Lion's Tale

The L.A. Times recently took a look behind the scenes of the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia film, which premieres Dec. 9. It's getting me psyched to see it! -- Amy

November 2, 2005

Tristram Shandy


The Onion A.V. Club reviews Michael Winterbottom's new adaptation of Sterne's Tristram Shandy. (via Return of the Reluctant)

"Pride & Prejudice": Worth Every Penny

On behalf of Romancing the Tome, I'm giving the new "Pride & Prejudice" movie starring Keira Knightley a ringing endorsement. Yes, I'll admit I arrived with only half an open mind to last night's "Girls Night Out" screening of the film in Los Angeles. Ever since I heard that this adaptation (which premieres on Nov. 18th) was in the works, I had a "Why bother?" attitude. After all, how could anyone improve upon (or even come close to rivaling) the BBC mini-series starring the unforgettable Colin Firth? How could a movie capture all the brilliant humor and knee-buckling romance in just two-and-a-half hours? By the end of the screening, however, I would have gladly watched it two more times in a row without interruption.

Think of this movie as a companion piece or supplement to the BBC miniseries. It doesn't necessarily outshine that version, but it definitely measures up in its own right. I like to think of it as a "quick fix" alternative for those times you simply don't have six hours to watch the miniseries straight through. There are no egregious edits in condensing the story, and the film offers up portions of dialogue from the book that weren't included in the BBC version, giving it a fresh new appeal.

The movie delivers a more rustic, unpolished, and I daresay realistic depiction of life as Austen might have known it. (Unkempt hair, manure in the streets, etc.), and there's a startling contrast between the Bennetts' rural existence and the posh surroundings at Netherfield and Pemberly.

Knightley plays a younger, perhaps more sassy version of Elizabeth Bennett than was played by Jennifer Ehle in the miniseries. As Mr. Darcy, Matthew MacFadyen (a.k.a. "He who is not Colin Firth") took a while to grow on me -- but isn't that the point, really? By the end, just the very sight of him made me damn near fall out of my chair into a blob of smitten-flavored Jell-O. True, there's no shirtless "dip in the lake" shot of Darcy like we saw from Firth, but there are plenty of other swoon-worthy moments to keep romantics satisfied. Beautifully directed, the last 30 minutes, in particular, elicited plenty of audible sighs from the audience, from Bingley's endearing proposal to Jane, to a vision of Darcy so stunningly beautiful that you may need defibrillator paddles to revive yourself. Seriously. Don't miss this one. -- Amy

November 1, 2005

NO, this is not


...just an excuse to post another pic of Jake Gyllenhaal. I take my non-job seriously, people! Jarhead author Anthony Swofford talks to the Seattle Post about his book's film adaptation (which stars Jake Gyllenhaal). --Kim

Paris Is for Lovers


...and filmmakers too. The Hollywood Reporter reveals that the sidewalk-cafe strewn city has already seen 29 weeks of shooting this year, leaving underachievers London, Rome, and Dublin in the dust. Marie-Antionette, The Da Vinci Code, and Munich are just three of the foreign films to have been shot in Paris. It doesn't hurt that city officials are sweetening the deal by offering cash incentives to movie moguls considering a French connection. ("Paris sizzles as capitals vie for prod'n," Hollywood Reporter) --Kim

Update: "Unrest spread across troubled suburbs around Paris in a sixth night of violence..."

October 26, 2005

An English Major's Guilty Pleasure

Question: What type of person will enjoy David Nicholl's "A Question of Attraction"?

a) Trivia junkies
b) Kate Bush fans
c) Former English Lit majors
d) All of the above

Answer: d.

This book made me heartily guffaw at times with a writing style reminiscent of Nick Hornby. I especially appreciated the '80s references to Brideshead Revisited and phrases like, "she crept up on me like Birnam Wood." It's a quick, cute, intelligent read that might remind you of Bridget Jones, as a guy, circa 1985. It's both heartbreaking and hilarious. --Amy

October 25, 2005

Casting Couch

Vanessa at Entre Nous has a fun post about the upcoming Devil Wears Prada adaptation, which stars Meryl Streep and the Princess Diaries' Anne Hathaway. Anne will also star in Becoming Jane, next year's biopic about the one and only Jane Austen. --Kim

October 24, 2005

Before "C.S.I."...

...there was Sherlock Holmes. Funny how so many of television's modern crime dramas draw upon devices from the mysteries of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Last night I watched Rupert Everett take on the title role in "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking." I thought his performance was great and can only hope he'll agree to do future installments as the cynical sleuth. (No, he didn't wear that trademark tweed cap; yes he did repeatedly say, "Elementary my dear Watson.") Though the movie was a bit heavy-handed with the fog machine, I thought the costumes, set design and performances were wonderful. As for the story, it was downright scandalous, complete with foot fetishes and depictions of Holmes as an illicit drug user.

Next Sunday, get ready for Part One of a two-part adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped," which promises to be a swashbuckling adventure. -- Amy

All I Want for Christmas

Get your lace-trimmed hankies ready.The NY Daily News reports that several fantastic DVD collections will be released just in time for the holidays. The long list includes some excellent literary adaptations:
Horatio Hornblower Collector's Edition
The Woman in White
The Charles Dickens Collection, which includes Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and David Copperfield
The Masterpiece Collection with Anna Karenina, Wuthering Heights, and Reckless.
The Romance Classics Collection: Volume 2 is a 14-disk set with one Hornblower film as well as Vanity Fair, Nicholas Nickleby, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Catherine the Great (starring Catherine Zeta-Jones), and Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
If you've never seen all 68 episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs, you'll have your chance with The Collector's Edition Megaset. --Kim

October 23, 2005

Sing Along

Woke up early today and was trying to think (with not much success) of songs with literary allusions. Decided to quit racking my brain and resort to Google. Here's a pretty thorough list I found. -- Amy

October 19, 2005

Those Were The Days...

For anyone who recently caught re-runs of PBS's Manor House, there's an interesting book you might want to check out to supplement your viewing. Judith Flanders's Inside The Victorian Home is a page-turning nonfiction account of what the daily life of a typical middle-class British citizen might have been like in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Flanders starts with childbirth, ends with funeral rituals and covers almost any imaginable topic in between, from likely contents of a kitchen cupboard to the endless (sometimes pointless) chores of a maid-of-all-work. On just about every page of this book are strange and fascinating tidbits that will likely make you feel quite relieved that you live in the 21st century. (Despite the awesome dresses, it wasn't as glamorous as movie versions of that era depict.) -- Amy

Test your knowledge of life in the Manor House here.

October 13, 2005

Brokeback Mountain

Lauren at Lux Lotus links to a great post at Greg.org about the Annie Proulx short story on which the film adaptation of Brokeback Mountain is based. The positive buzz on this film is deafening. I simply cannot wait to see it. Read more here. Watch the trailer here.--Kim

October 12, 2005

Of Love and Other Demons

Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell will be directing the adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's haunting novel Love In the Time of Cholera. The screenplay is by Ronald Harwood (The Pianist).

The Guardian briefly comments on the news that, as reported here yesterday, a Paradise Lost adaptation is in the works. We can't wait to hear who'll take on the role of Satan.... --Kim

October 11, 2005

New on DVD

A 2004 adaptation of Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey was released today on DVD. I loved the book, but don't even remember hearing a word about this film, which stars Robert DeNiro, Kathy Bates, Gabriel Byrne, Harvey Keitel and F. Murray Abraham. It doesn't appear to have gotten stellar reviews, but perhaps is worth a rental. -- Amy

October 10, 2005

Devilish New Adaptation

Variety reports that Hyde Park Entertainment (Antitrust, Walking Tall) and Vincent Newman Entertainment (A Man Apart) will produce a feature film based on Milton's Paradise Lost. If their previous films are any indication, it looks like Satan's fall from grace might be quite the action flick. Casting picks, anyone? Keanu Reeves...The Rock? --Kim

October 5, 2005

Bleak House Gets Soaped

In an attempt to lure pre-teens, the latest BBC adaption of Dickens' Bleak House has been serialized and given a soap opera treatment by scriptwriter Andrew Davies, whose work includes the Colin Firth version of P&P(!), Middlemarch, and Vanity Fair (The Independent).

The adaptation will span over 16 half-hour episodes and stars Gillian Anderson, Charles Dance, Denis Lawson, Johnny Vegas, and Alistair McGowan. If it's good, I'd like to see Little Dorrit done next! Davies' next project is Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty, which has been on my must-read list for quite some time. --Kim

Related: Can you "Survive Dickens' London?"
Dodge through Victorian London, avoiding the gangs and villains and trials and tribulations of Dickensian London in order to seek out Charles Dickens in his chalet hideaway in Rochester.

Orlando and Oprah: A Force For Good

A teen transplanted from Hurricane Katrina recently got a surprise visitor on her doorstep: Orlando Bloom! Here's an account from the Louisville Courier-Journal:


When Jessica Samson arrived in Louisville after fleeing New Orleans with little more than the clothes on her back, she had no idea it would be Orlando Bloom who'd replenish her wardrobe.

Samson, 14, and her family moved in with an uncle and learned that Hurricane Katrina had destroyed nearly everything they had owned. Suffice it to say, Samson was stunned when "The Oprah Winfrey Show" arranged for Bloom to pay the Assumption High School student a visit Saturday during his trip into town for the screening of "Elizabethtown."

In addition to giving Samson and her sister, Anne, 23, a $5,000 Guess gift certificate each and the chance to walk down the red carpet with him at the screening, Bloom offered her solace.

"It was nice to get out and do something fun and not have to worry about anything," a still-beaming Samson said yesterday.

(FYI, Orlando is a guest on today's Oprah -- from the previews I've seen, Oprah has a hard time NOT salivating in his presence. But can you blame her?) -- Amy

October 4, 2005

King of the Studs

Don't hate the player, especially when it's Heath Ledger who's playing the notoriously randy Venetian, Casanova, in the film of the same name. It hits theaters on Nov. 30, but you can check out the movie trailer here. The cast also includes Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Oliver Platt and Lena Olin. It's directed by Lasse Hallstrom, who also brought us Chocolat. -- Amy

The Real Pemberley?


The Chatsworth estate, pictured above, is featured in the latest issue of Town & Country Magazine (which I don't read, but may pick up this one time) and the new P&P movie. Luxist reports that Austen’s description of Pemberley in the novel is said to have been based on this Derbyshire mansion. Just for fun, here are some quotes about Pemberley from Pride and Prejudice:
"Every disposition of the ground was good; and she looked on the whole scene, the river, the trees scattered on its banks, and the winding of the valley, as far as she could trace it."
"They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills;—and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place where nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in her admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!"
and of course when Lizzy says...
"It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley."
--Kim

October 3, 2005

All the Tea That's Fit to Drink

Just found a great comprehensive site listing tea rooms for any given zipcode. There are several in my area I never even knew about. Can't wait to check them out.... Mmmmmm, scones.

If you're looking for a do-it-at-home treat, check out this recipe for tea leaf shortbread cookies. It sounds sort of strange, but they are heaven! -- Amy

Duel Report

Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman will play dueling magicians in an adaptation of Christopher Priest's novel The Prestige, reports Digital Spy. Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins) will direct. Nolan's brother Jonathan adapted the screenplay for The Prestige, which we're thrilled to discover is set in Victorian England. The book's description on Amazon is quite enticing, so we may have to read this one before the movie version comes out. If you've read it, less us know what you think. --Kim

September 30, 2005

Mammas, don't let your babies grow up to be frat boys

It's only a matter of time before Tom Wolfe's "I Am Charlotte Simmons" makes its way to the big screen. It's a novel even our beloved President Bush read earlier this year. (All the frat boy "hijinks" in the book must have really taken him back.)I tore through this book on a plane ride to Hawaii, amazed that a geezur like Wolfe was able to wrap his mind around modern campus life fairly accurately. (Warning: Parents of highschool or college-aged kids should probably steer clear of this one or risk countless sleepless nights worrying about what booze-induced sexual naughtiness their kids are currently engaged in.) Since I was sadly more dork than diva in college, I could readily identify with the naive, ostracized heroine, while cursing the vicious "froshtitutes" who make her life hell on earth. To read an NPR commentary on the book, click here. -- Amy

September 29, 2005

The Bunny Trail


"Miss Potter," a biopic about beloved children's author Beatrix Potter (The Tale of Peter Rabbit), will star Renee Zellweger, reports Variety. Ewan McGregor is negotiating to play Potter's publisher and beau Norman. A cursory glance at Potter's bio reveals this movie may be quite sad and therefore likely to garner another Academy Award nom for Ms. Zellweger. Out of three nominations, the perky/plucky actress has won one Oscar for her supporting role in Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain. --Kim

September 27, 2005

On The Make For Brits With Money

I'm reading an interesting nonfiction book right now called Titled Americans by Elisabeth Kehoe about three sisters from a "new money" family in New York's high society who all three manage to nab titled British husbands. One of the sisters turns out to be the mother of Winston Churchill. If you're interested at all in the life of young debs of the Victorian/Edwardian age or are a fan of Edith Wharton's The Buccaneers, this would be up your alley. -- Amy

September 22, 2005

The Lonely Doll


Romancing the Tome Reader (and style blogger extraordinaire) Lauren Cerand tipped us off to an exciting new project from Killer Films (Boys Don't Cry, Velvet Goldmine, Happiness), Number 9 Films, and artist Julian Schnabel (Before Night Falls, Basquiat). They are collaborating on a biopic about the life of model turned author Dare Wright who wrote the Lonely Dolls series. Christine Vachon (of Killer Films) optioned Jean Nathan's book The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright. IMDB.com lists the film as in pre-production and the cast appears to be undetermined as of yet. Post your casting picks in the comments section--we'd love to see them!

September 13, 2005

What's In a Gnome?

Ewan MacGregor and Kate Winslet lend their voices to "Gnomeo and Juliet" a CGI-animated musical spin on the bard's classic, "Romeo and Juliet" in which romance blooms between an indoor and an outdoor garden gnome. Tim Rice and Elton John penned the lyrics and songs for the movie, which should be released next year. -- Amy

Whereabouts: Ioan Gruffudd


Ioan Gruffudd, the strikingly handsome actor and noble seafarer Horatio in the Hornblower series, is set to play a new kind of hero in the film Amazing Grace. The Hollywood Reporter reveals that he will portray William Wilberforce, an 18th century British slavery abolitionist. Albert Finney will costar. The very busy Gruffudd is currently filming The TV Set, which satirizes the production of a TV pilot. (Gruffudd will perhaps be able to employ his own experience with the short-lived series "Century City.") David Duchovny and Sigourney Weaver are also in the film. It goes without saying that it is the most fervent wish of the Romancing the Tome authors that in due time the dashing Ioan will be induced make another Hornblower film. --Kim

Prude & Prejudice


Apparently Keira Knightly got cheeky at the London premiere of the new P&P adaptation, which stars the ubiquitous Knightley as Lizzie Bennet. I don't have the exact quote but Miss Knightley apparently bragged to a reporter that if a guy brought his date to see the movie he was guaranteed to "get laid" afterwards. Minette Marrin of The Sunday Times (UK) imagines what Jane Austen would have to say about that. --Kim

More Buzz on Bee Season


Trent reports that Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal's mom Naomi Foner wrote the screenplay for Bee Season. We were excited to see that she also wrote a particular fave Running On Empty ('88) which of course featured our beloved River Phoenix. Her latest project is Grace, a Sandra Bullock vehicle about Peyton Place author Grace Metalious, which is scheduled for release in '06. (pic via Pink is the New Blog).--Kim

September 10, 2005

Whatever Happend To....?

Still waiting for the movie version of Rick Marin's Cad: Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor. Miramax had supposedly optioned the rights, and the author was working on a screenplay, but I've not heard any word that it's slated for production. If anyone knows definitive details, let us know. --Amy

Here's the Skinny...

Not exactly high-brow lit, but having recently read Carl Hiassen's bestseller Skinny Dip, I see that it's big-screen-bound thanks to Mike Nichols, who bought the screen rights last year and intends on directing the film. I've not found any info on who would play whom in this satiric tale of a conceited husband who throws his wife off a cruise ship. But if I was playing casting director, here's who I'd pick. -- Amy

A-hole biologist Chaz Perrone: Rob Lowe
His wife and unwitting victim, Joey Perrone: Naomi Watts
Joey's rugged-loner savior, Mick Stranahan: Harrison Ford
Corrupt businessman Red Hammernut: Albert Finney
Chaz's hairy bodyguard, Tool: Meatloaf
Chaz's indignant mistress, Rica: J.Lo

September 6, 2005

Ready to Book It

Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslett, and Halle Berry are "favourites" for roles in an adaptation of Small Island, reports Ireland On-Line. Meanwhile, The Book Standard has updates on the following book-to-film deals:

Billy Crudup will play "speed freak" Neal Cassady in Kerouac's On the Road. Scarlett Johannson and Chloë Sevigny are allegedly vying for the role of Jack's girlfriend.

Columbia Pictures owns the rights to Julie Powell's blog-turned-book chronicling her attempts to make every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Everyone is talking about Angelina Jolie's role in an animated retelling of Beowulf. Joseph Fiennes, Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, Crispin Glover, and John Malkovich are just a few of the other famous voices to be heard in this adaptation.--Kim

K-L-E-E-N-E-X

Here's the trailer for the adaptation of Myla Goldberg's Bee Season, which stars Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, and Juliette Binoche. --Kim

August 31, 2005

A Book Worth Purloining, Perhaps?

As we previously reported, Robert Downey Jr. will play Edgar Allan Poe in a biopic about the legendary master of the macabre. In anticipation of "Poe," (scheduled for release next year), you may want to study up on the author's life. (Yes, there's more to know than just the fact that he was a boozer who married his 13-year old cousin.)

An enjoyable read is the novel "Poe & Fanny" by John May, which takes you through an interesting imagining of the author's final year of life, based on gathered facts from the time. Living in New York City in 1845, the author gained his greatest notoriety that year following the publication of "The Raven." (He was sort of like the "Eminem" of his time...an outcast whom both the masses and the cultural elite embraced.) He also formed a budding "friendship" with female poet Fanny Osgood, and although they tried to keep their love for one another on the down-low, their passion became transparent in the none-too-subtle poetry they published in literary magazines. Fanny was the bright spot in the writer's otherwise depressing world of indigence, alcoholism, massive writer's block and the sad and slow demise of his ailing wife, Sissy. But, sadly, Poe's involvement with his muse marked the beginning of his end. Whether you're a diehard Poe fan or just enjoy tales set in the Victorian era, this is one I'd recommend. -- Amy

August 30, 2005

Lestat to Vamp It Up in Musical


Elton John and Bernie Taupin have created Lestat, a musical based on Anne Rice's popular Vampire Chronicles. (Yep, I went through that phase too.) Hugh Panero of The Phantom of the Opera will play the title role. The musical will, like Wicked and Lennon, debut in San Francisco for "tweaking" in the hopes of not sucking too much (sorry) before being unleashed on Broadway. Bernie Taupin tells Playbill:
We have unified these books into a linear storyline and our intention is to make a stylish, sexy, intelligent and richly hypnotic show that is stripped of gothic clichés and that shows the vampire dealing with his damnation on a more realistic and human level. Please let me make this clear this is not a rock opera.
Personally, I like gothic clichés but I'm certain there will be plenty of other clichés to revel in with this production! --Kim

From the Archives:
Fight Club: The Musical?, Webber does "Wilkie"

August 29, 2005

Whereabouts: Robert Downey Jr.


Downey Jr. (Less than Zero, Chaplin, Tuff Turf) is in the news again but fortunately this time it's only for something as innocuous as his wedding to producer Susan Levin. (Keanu Reeves and Sting reportedly attended the ceremony.) A quick visit to IMDB.com reveals that the gifted and handsome is but not necessarily handsome does actor is set to star in some diverse films that may be of interest to Romancing the Tome readers. For starters, he'll appear with Val Kilmer in Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang based on a novel by Brett Halliday. As reported previously in this space, Downey will play Edgar Allan Poe in Sylvester Stallone's film Poe about the tragic author of such eerie and beloved works as "The Raven" and "The Tell-Tale Heart." (More about Poe to come from Amy at a later date.) In addition to Poe, Downey is appearing in the adaptation of Philip K. Dick's sci-fi novel Through A Scanner Darkly (with Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder), a movie about photographer Diane Arbus entitled Fur, Zodiac, about an infamous San Francisco serial killer, and perhaps of considerably less interest, a remake of The Shaggy Dog with Tim Allen. --Kim

From the Archives: Whereabouts: Joseph Fiennes

Webber does "Wilkie"

Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation of Wilkie Collins' Victorian mystery thriller, "The Woman In White" opens on Broadway in November. Listen to some of the music here. (Yes, I willingly confess to loving musicals, and I would LOVE to see this one!) -- Amy

Faces of "Rome"

If you caught the premiere episode of HBO's "Rome" last night, you may have recognized a few familiar faces from some favorite literary adaptations. Here's a breakdown of who's who, and where you may have seen them before. -- Amy

Ciaran Hinds (Julius Caesar): Hinds was our favorite actor in the miniseries "Ivanhoe." He was also Captain Wentworth in the 1995 version of "Persuasion," played the title character in the Mayor of Casterbridge and was Rochester to Samantha Morton's "Jane Eyre." He was one of the opera house managers in last year's "Phantom of the Opera," and back in the early eighties, he also appeared in "Excalibur."

Kenneth Cranham (Pompey Magnus): Cranham appeared in "Brideshead Revisited," as well as "Lady Windemere's Fan," the 1968 musical, "Oliver," and a TV version of "The Merchant of Venice."

James Purefoy (Marc Antony): If you lend him your ear, you may recognize him as Rawdon Crawley from 2004's "Vanity Fair." He's also appeared in one of the Sharpe's Rifles installments, played Mr. Lawrence in Anne Bronte's "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" and played Tom Bertram in "Mansfield Park."

Polly Walker (Atia): Played Caroline Dester in "Enchanted April," was Jane Fairfax in the Gwyneth Paltrow version of "Emma," appeared in "Robinson Crusoe" and joined Ciaran Hinds in "Mayor of Casterbridge."

Kevin McKidd (Lucius Vorenus): He was dashing Count Vronsky in the BBC miniseries, "Anna Karenina." You also may have seen him play John Browdie in "Nicholas Nickleby."

Lindsay Duncan (Servilia): She played Lady Bertram in "Mansfield Park" and Lady Markby in "An Ideal Husband." She also appeared in the miniseries "A History of Tom Jones, a Foundling," "A Year in Provence" and played Hippolyta/Titania in the 1996 version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Max Pirkis (young Octavian): He played the young midshipman in "Master and Commander."

Satanic Spawns New "Controversy"

The Guardian reports on a recent verbal skirmish regarding a hypothetical t.v. adaptation of Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. --Kim

August 25, 2005

My Life as a Book

If you were a book, which one would you be? Take this nifty quiz to find out.

I'm apparently T.S. Eliot's "Prufrock and Other Observations." (FYI, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" IS probably my all-time favorite poem, so in that sense, the quiz was surprisingly accurate.) -- Amy

August 24, 2005

Victory "Gardener"

I was only half-expecting to enjoy "The Constant Gardener" given its sobering subject matter, but I went to a screening last night of this John LeCarre adaptation, and thought it was quite good. Ralph Fiennes plays a "let's-not-rock-the-boat" British diplomat to Africa,and his wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz) is an impetuous firebrand whose inquiries into a behemoth pharmaceutical company stirs up big-time trouble. As intrigue ensues, the film simultaneously delves into the sweet love affair that brought this unlikely couple together. The performances were remarkable, although I found the first half of the film a bit more engaging than the latter half. Overall, however, no weeds here. -- Amy

August 22, 2005

Another Helping of Oliver

Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist will be dished out in theaters beginning September 30th. EW reports that Polanksi spent a year looking for just the right children's story to adapt before settling on Charles Dickens' rough and tumble tale of a London orphan adopted by a street gang. Filmed in Prague, it cost $60 million to make and features "meticulously period-accurate outdoor" scenes. Watch the trailer here to see for yourself. --Kim

Brothers Grimm

Listened to an interview with director Terry Gilliam this weekend on Studio 360. It sounds like the The Brothers Grimm is going to be worth checking out, even despite my not-so-zealous feelings for Matt Damon. Previews I've seen of the film make me think it may have a bit of the "Princess Bride" feel to it. In the interview, Gilliam (the only American member of the Monty Python crew) talked about the fact that kids today only get bland, whitewashed stories instead of the good old-fashioned, pee-in-your-pants scary stuff of classic fairy tales. I think he's right: We all need the stuffing scared out of us at a young age to prepare us for the real world.

And speaking of Gilliam, let's not forget he was behind the brilliant 12 Monkeys, one of my all-time favorites. -- Amy

The Name Game...

If you can ante up enough bucks, you, too, can be immortalized in prose. In a charity auction on Ebay beginning Sept. 1, high bidders will have the opportunity to have their names (or a name of their choosing) incorporated into the novel of one of 16 well-known authors, including Stephen King, John Grisham, Amy Tan, Dave Eggers, or even Lemony Snicket. All proceeds go to First Amendment Project. -- Amy

August 12, 2005

"Texas Ranch House""

For anyone anxious for the next installation of those PBS historical reality series (ie, Frontier House, Regency House, Manor House, 1900 House, Colonial House), there's another production in the works!

Texas Ranch House is an 8-part series that will air in the spring of 2006. Participants will learn to rope, ride, and presumably say things like "Get along, little dogies."-- Amy

August 11, 2005

On The Road...

The Hollywood Reporter notes that Walter Salles will direct the feature adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. Francis Ford Coppolla's production company, Zoetrope Productions, has had the rights to the beat generation novel since 1979, so I'd say it's about time they finally got moving on it! Salles will collaborate with screenwriter Jose Rivera (the two also teamed together on The Motorcycle Diaries).

Let us know who you think should play Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty... -- Amy

Let's Talk About Sex...

Thanks to the folks at Soft Skull Press for the head's up that Justin Chatwin (Tom Cruise's cute son in War of the Worlds)is set to star in the film adaptation of Michael Turner's The Pornographer's Poem.

This dark comedy is a coming of age story set in the late 1970s about a 16-year old boy who dabbles in pornography after accidentally witnessing his next-door neighbors getting it on. Sounds intriguingly smutty.

And speaking of quirky-sexy, I finally got around to watching Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader in Secretary last night, which is supposed to be loosely based off the short story, Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill. It didn't do much for me. I think it's one of those "either love it or hate it" flicks. --Amy

Light Shines on Dark Materials

Edward Champion's Return of the Reluctant reports that the film adaptation of The Golden Compass, the first book in Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, is back on track with a new director, Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie, Shopgirl). --Kim

Update: Shopgirl, based on Steve Martin's novella, is due out in October 2005. Photos and trailer are here.

August 10, 2005

Rizzo Knocked Up with Bundle of Joy


FilmStew.com reports that Stockard Channing (Grease, West Wing) will direct The Joy of Funerals, (Bridget Jones meets Wedding Crashers?) based on a short story collection by Alix Strauss. I haven't read the book but if you have, let us know what you think about it. --Kim

August 9, 2005

Fight Club: The Musical?

One book we may want to hope doesn't get turned into a film adaptation is Chuck Pahluniuk's "Haunted." A great read, but the gross-out factor is high. Just imagining it on the big screen triggers my gag reflex.

But in other news, I've been hearing more buzz that the author's first novel "Fight Club" (made into a movie starring B-rad and Ed Nortan as we all know) may soon be turned into a musical. I remember Chuck mentioned this last fall when i went and saw him introduce a screening of "Fight Club" in L.A., so I'm guessing it's more fact than fiction. (Word is, Trent Reznor will be writing the music.) Do you think it will work? I guess if Joyce Carol Oates could make an opera based off Ted Kennedy's Chappequiddick scandal, anything's possible. -- Amy

Ismail Merchant Tribute, Brooklyn

MerchantIvory.com reports that The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) will be screening In Custody, "one of Mr. Merchant's best films as director," Thursday August 11 @ 6:30 and 9:15pm. The start time for the first show is 6:30pm and NOT 6:50pm as the BAM website has listed. More on In Custody, Merchant's feature directorial debut here.

Brad and Jennifer


The couple may be history, but the literary adaptations they're co-producing aren't. Caryn Solly investigates The Time Traveler's Wife, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, A Million Little Pieces and more.

August 8, 2005

Whereabouts: Joseph Fiennes


If there were a pinup calendar for literary adaptation lovers (and perhaps there should be), Shakespeare In Love star Joseph Fiennes would definitely be in it. A quick look at IMDB.com's listing for Fiennes reveals that he has several adaptations up his lace-embellished sleeve. First he'll star as Laurent in a retelling of Emile Zola's tragic novel Therese Raquin with Franka Potente (Run Lola Run, The Bourne Supremecy) and Glenn Close. Then, next year, we'll see him as Neil Bookman in an adaptation of Augusten Burroughs' best-selling memoir Running with Scissors, a tough but true tale about the son of a mentally-ill poetess (played by Gwyneth P. Annette Bening, natch). --Kim

Update: Gwyneth P. will be playing Dr. Finch's daughter Hope.

The Merchant of.... Vegas?

Patrick Stewart has brought Sir Ian McKellan on board for a modern-day adaptation of The Merchant of Venice, set at The Venetian in Las Vegas. The Telegraph (UK) reports that this adaptation will be paced more like Baz Lurhman’s Romeo + Juliet which starred Claire Danes and Leo DiCaprio, than last year’s more traditional telling of The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino, Joseph Fiennes, and Jeremy Irons. --Kim

From the archives: All I Want for Christmas...

August 5, 2005

What do NPR and Lindsay Lohan have in common?

Well, namely the fact that Lohan is among the cast of the movie version of Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion," a celebrated radio series on NPR. The movie is being directed by Robert Altman and stars Keillor as himself, John C. Reilly and Woody Harrelson as "Dusty and Lefty," Tommy Lee Jones as "Axeman," "Kevin Kline" as Guy Noir and Lohan as "Annie Angels." Virginia Madsen, Maya Rudolph, Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin round out the cast.

(George Clooney was originally offered the "Guy Noir" role but had to turn it down because of scheduling conflicts.) -- Amy

"Pieces" News

The adaptation of James Frey's detox memoir "A Million Little Pieces" is in production and scheduled for a 2006 release. IMDB.com doesn't list the cast, but names like Jake Gyllenhaal, Orlando Bloom and Ryan Gosling have been rumored for the lead role, and Lindsay Lohan's name is also being bandied about. (Kelly Osbourne has also said she'd love a role in the flick...oh boy.) If anyone knows the definitive cast, email us -- we'd love to know. -- Amy

August 4, 2005

Just a Taste


This is just one of several new pix from Coppola's Marie Antoinette, starring Kirsten Dunst. The shot in the garden is particularly nice. --Kim

July 27, 2005

An Oldie But Goody: "Poldark"

Kim and I watched the first half of the classic BBC miniseries, "Poldark" last weekend. It was quite the TV event back in 1975 and remains one of the most successful British television dramas of all time. Now, naturally, it seems a bit dated since the indoor scenes are shot on tape in a studio. (It resembles a soap opera in more ways than one.) Still, the drama and camp factor makes this series INCREDIBLY worth watching. We still have six more hours to watch, but in the meantime, here are some of the important things we've learned from our newfound TV addiction:

1) There is such a disease as "the morbid sore throat."
2) Ross Poldark is strangely attractive, but only when he is indoors.
3) Wife killers are actually quite lovable.
4) Elizabeth Poldark gives new meaning to the term "dumb blonde."
5) Disgusting little urchin boys can make great wives.
6) Cornwall in the spring is lovely.
7) Old maids should be allowed to date whoever the hell they want.
8) Overacting is not a crime, but it's certainly "deuced awkward."
9) Poaching is a crime.
10) Festering wounds should really be taken care of. --Amy

July 26, 2005

Pride & Prejudice 2005

Photos and the trailer from the new adaptation of Pride & Prejudice are availabe at the film's official site. P&P 2005 stars Keira Knightley, Donald Sutherland, Matthew Macfadyen, and Jenna Malone.

July 25, 2005

Frock 'N Roll


Dark Horizons has more juicy details on Sofia Coppola's upcoming film about the fascinating French Queen Marie-Antionette. Terence Malick's Badlands is said to be one of the inspirations for the film which will include a "rock 'n roll" style love scene between King Louis and Comtesse Barry. Kirsten Dunst gets to play the Queen. What a dream role for Dunst. In fact, what a year as she's also lucky enough to have filmed the upcoming Crowe film Elizabetown alongside Orlando Bloom. Oh yeah, and she's dating Donnie Darko. One can only hope she's enjoying every second of it! --Kim

July 21, 2005

Novel Approach

City of God director Fernando Meirelles talks to Vanity Fair about his upcoming film The Constant Gardener, a political thriller based on a John le Carré novel and starring Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes. --Kim

July 20, 2005

Calling All Tycoons!

Gail Shister of the Philadelphia Inquirer recently wrote an update on the ongoing quest to find a new sponsor for "Masterpiece Theater." So far, the results aren't promising...

Last year, Exxon Mobil, the program's sole underwriter since 1971, ended its sponsorship, meaning PBS no longer has their $7 million worth of annual funding to rely upon to create new productions.

Since then, PBS has gotten no bites from any major companies willing to ante up the cash.

On the bright side, PBS says the show WILL go on. They'll pick up the tab for two more seasons of "MT," but at only half the previous budget.

Nevertheless, here's what we can look forward to on this season's schedule:
• Rupert Everett in "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking" (Oct. 23)
• Robert Louis Stevenson's "Kidnapped"
• A four-hour miniseries about Elizabeth I, "The Virgin Queen"
• An eight-hour adaptation of a Charles Dickens novel (they won't say which one.)

PBS vows they'll eventually get a new sponsor to take over where Exxon Mobil left off. In the meantime, does any one have a rich uncle of the Steve Forbes variety who might want to help them out? -- Amy

Laika to Launch Gaimen's Ghost Story

New production company, Laika Entertainment, will animate Neil Gaimen's best-selling novel for children, Coraline. The Hugo award-winning favorite is described as a Chronicles of Narnia-type adventure with a gothic edge. --Kim

July 19, 2005

An Aria for Antoinette

Whether it's acted out, sung, or pantomimed, we can never get enough of the French Revolution. Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd fame, evidently feels the same way, having turned this pivotal moment in French history into a classical opera which will be released on a double-CD on Sept. 27.

The three-act opera, "Ça Ira," ("There Is Hope") was 16 years in the making and features lyrics in English. It portrays the events and spirit of the Revolution through various perspectives, including that of Marie Antoinette. Waters says his ultimate goal is to have the piece produced by an opera company.

FYI, "Ça Ira" was the name of one of the most popular songs of the French Revolution. Here's a version of the song if you'd like to hear it. -- Amy

July 18, 2005

Dangerous Adaptations


In 1779, the bestselling Les Liaisons Dangereuses seduced and scandalized the French. In the twentieth century, filmakers finally dared to adapt the material. Find out more about the novel and its adaptations, including the lesser-known "apres ski version" from 1959. ("The Sex Epistles that Rocked the World," Telegraph) --Kim

From the Archives: What's your favorite adaptation?

July 7, 2005

Rumor Has It

Okay, close your eyes and picture Ioan Gruffudd in a tux and ordering his martini, "shaken not stirred." Are you with me? Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Orlando Bloom and countless other actors have been linked to the next Bond film, but the latest report (via IMDB) straight from a Fantastic Four press conference reveals that our own Horatio Hornblower just might be the new 007.
Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd is so determined to land the role of James Bond he's refusing to talk about the possibility for fear of jinxing his 007 dream. The Horatio Hornblower star was outed as the favorite to land the part at a press conference yesterday by Fantastic Four co-star Julian McMahon, who was among the names mentioned for the role. When Aussie McMahon was quizzed about the role, he stunned journalists by turning to Gruffudd and stating, "I think Ioan is playing Bond." But the Welsh actor would not be drawn into a conversation about the part: "I don't want to jinx it."
--Kim

From the Archives: Great Expectations and Then Some, Ioan Learns Yiddish and Shows Some Skin

July 6, 2005

Wishful Thinking

Six authors including Jonathan Safran Foer and Melissa Bank choose books they'd like to see adapted for the screen. Having recently read Ann Patchett's Bel Canto (read my short review at kimsaid), I'd add that to the list as well.(USA Today, via Boldtype) --Kim

July 5, 2005

Ioan Learns Yiddish & Shows Some Skin. "Hot!"


This weekend, per Amy's recommendation, I watched the tearjerker Solomon and Gaenor starring our favorite actor and Welsh export Ioan Gruffudd (pronounced Yo-an Griffith). Quite the melodrama, the movie tells the story of star-crossed Gaenor, a protestant from a mining family, and Solomon, the beloved son of a Jewish merchant. To avoid being cast out by his family, Solomon hides his true identity from his love and her predictably insufferable family, which includes a hard-drinking, hard-living bully of a brother and a Bible-thumping patriarch. Their many secret trysts include, but aren't limited to, a literal roll in the hay. Ioan (who learned Yiddish for the role) is oft-times shirtless and reliably adorable, even if I did roll my eyes a bit at his character’s lame ambivalence and the somewhat soporific denouement. While dependably trite, the film is worth watching for obvious reasons. --Kim

June 29, 2005

The Devil Wears Prada

Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep will star in an adaptation of chick lit bestseller The Devil Wears Prada, a roman a clef based on the author's experience as an assistant to notorious Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. (Hathaway will also co-star with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Ang Lee's much anticipated Brokeback Mountain.)

June 28, 2005

Depar-deux!

Since I moved to San Francisco three months ago, Amy and I have sorely missed our weekly movie nights. Last week I was in LA for a couple days and we indulged in not one, but two, Gerard Depardieu costume dramas, Vatel and Bon Voyage. Vatel, literally a visual feast, was by far our favorite of the two, with Depardieu portraying the title character, a Louis XIV-era steward with the resources of Martha Stewart and the cachet of Farnsworth Bentley. Vatel's client is an impoverished prince hoping to impress his guests, Louis XIV and entourage, with all the pageantry and pleasure his signature--if not his coffer--can afford. Uma Thurman plays the object of Vatel's adoration. The fuzzy plot and lukewarm chemistry are left in the dust by the gorgeous displays of Vatel's skill. Whether going behind-the-scenes at Vatel's fireworks spectacle or following him as he works his way through the vast kitchen, here blowing a vase made of sugar, there inventing a new dessert, the camera catches every fascinating historical detail. Bon Voyage, on the other hand, was a snoozer and barely made any impression worth sharing here. --Kim

June 27, 2005

No Laughing Matter

I saw the L.A. version of the Amy-and-David-Sedaris-penned play, "The Book of Liz" over the weekend and was thoroughly disappointed. Neither I nor the rest of the audience laughed much throughout the entire production. In fact, I can't believe the comic genius behind "Naked," "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim" was responsible for my colossal waste of $25. Sure, it has a quirky premise: A profuse sweater in a Squeamish (re: Amish) community earns her keep producing cheeseballs (both traditional and smokey flavor), which the community sells to the outside world. Sounds promisingly hilarious, yes? Unfortunately, the play itself doesn't really deliver on the offbeat idea. I'm the type of person who shakes with laughter reading David Sedaris's books, and while I'm still holding onto hope for a movie version of this insane family's life, I humbly suggest that you skip "The Book of Liz." -- Amy

June 15, 2005

A Ghost of a Chance?

The latest news on Martin Amis' screen adaptation of Austen's gothic novella Northanger Abby isn't good. (The Transon, 3rd item from the top) --Kim
Related:
Passion, Poetry, and Poltergeists (KimSaid.com)

First it's "Reading Rainbow..."

The next thing you know it could be Masterpiece Theatre. Sign the petition to save NPR and PBS funding here.

June 13, 2005

teany

During our recent trip to New York (to celebrate the launch of my new book) Kim and I popped in for afternoon tea at teany, the vegan tea room owned by Moby and his ex-girlfriend.

For a mere $14 each, we were treated to an ample array of delicious sandwiches, scones and petit fours. While I'm not usually gung-ho on vegan cuisine, the food was excellent, including sandwiches of chedder and pickle, avocado and cream cheese and tomato pesto. Despite the 90-degree temperatures outside, we opted for hot tea and were not disappointed. I liked Kim's Earl Grey Cream tea so much I bought a container to take home.

It was more food than we could eat and we enjoyed the cheerful-yet-hipster-like setting in the lower East Side. If you're in Manhattan, check out this alternative to the city's more expensive high tea options. -- Amy

June 7, 2005

Who Am I?

By the way, if I were a poet, I'd be William Blake...."Tiger, tiger, burning bright"....William Blake
You are William Blake! Wow. I'm impressed. Not
only are you a self-made artist and poet, but
you've suddenly become a very trendy guy to
like. It's not that we doubt that you have all
your marbles, it's just that we're not quite
sure what you did with them to come up with
those terrifying theological visions. The
people of your time were nowhere near as
forgiving as that, and all your neighbors
thought you were a grade-A nut job. But we
love you, so rest happy.


Which Major Romantic Poet Would You Be (if You Were a Major Romantic Poet)?
brought to you by Quizilla -- Amy

May 27, 2005

Rock, Paper, Scissors...

Just finished reading Augusten Burrough's strange but compelling autobiography "Running With Scissors" which Brad Pitt is producing for the big screen, due out next year. It appears to be cast well -- if you can stand Gwyneth Paltrow, that is. --Amy

May 25, 2005

R.I.P.: Ismail Merchant

Producer Ismail Merchant, of Merchant Ivory Productions, passed away today at age 68. Merchant and Ivory are, of course, well-known for their lush adaptations of novels such as A Room with a View, Remains of the Day, and Howard's End.

May 24, 2005

"Empire Falls" Lands on HBO this Sat./Sun.

The two-parter, based on Richard Russo's Pulitzer winning novel, is being hailed (by HBO) as an "event." While I have my doubts as to its being a "Roots" or even a "North and South," I am curious to see how the notable cast, which includes Ed Harris, Helen Hunt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Paul Newman, will portray the varied characters in the fictional New England town. Stay tuned for my review next week. --Kim

Yo, Edgar!

Sylvester Stallone is set to direct a film he wrote about doomed Gothic poet and author Edgar Allan Poe, reports Variety. Poe's psychological thrillers had me penning my own grisly "epic" poems (which will NEVER see the light of day) such as The Dark Tower in junior high. The film is set to star doomed rake-about-town, Robert Downey Jr. The casting makes sense and it's likely that Downey Jr. has tried Opium, the drug oft-mentioned in Poe's works. --Kim

Related: Head to the E.A. Poe Society of Baltimore for more on Poe's life and works.

May 19, 2005

Nana: The Maneater

Just finished reading Emile Zola's Nana (chosen to coincide with my recent trip to Paris...totally apropos.) While from the title it might sound like a boring novel about someone's grandmother, let me assure you: This tale of a bodacious courtesan in Belle Epoch Paris is completely scandalicious! Nana tears through men like an allergy sufferer does Kleenex. Men cannot resist her (she's the Paris Hilton of her day) and by the time she's done with them, they are either dead, financially-ruined or emotional wrecks.

The descriptions of the ladies' outfits are worth the read alone, and tales of outrageous parties, life in the theater, and, of course, Nana's exploits (with both men AND women) are equally riveting.

"A ruined man fell from her hands like ripe fruit, to rot on the ground."

On IMDB, there appear to be loads of movie-versions and mini-series (albeit mostly foreign.) The most promising may be this 1968 version directed by John Davies.

Still, I'm ready for another big remake...maybe starring Kate Winslet or Angelina Jolie? -- Amy

April 27, 2005

Lucky Girl


Here's a pic of Kirsten Dunst in costume from the set of Sophia Coppola's movie about Marie Antionette. (via Pink Is the New Blog)

April 20, 2005

Have a Little Turkish Delight

You must check out Disney's lovely website for the Chronicles of Narnia. Tilda Swinton and Anna Popplewell (Daniel Deronda, Girl with the Pearl Earring, and Mansfield Park) are among the cast members of the adaptation, which is scheduled for release this year. Be sure to mouse around the 360 view inside Narnia (look for the lamppost, then go right). Plus: Take the Chronicles of Narnia quiz. --Kim

April 18, 2005

Prairie Rant

I know there is a generation of little girls who aren't so fortunate to have grown up with Michael Landon calling Melissa Gilbert "Half-pint." Maybe I'm just being bitter in my old-school devotion to the original version of "Little House on the Prairie," with that bitchy Nelly Olsen always shaking things up and the "let's frolick in the meadow!" closing credits. Yet curiosity prompted me to check out ABC's new version of "Little House on the Prairie" on Saturday night. (Nevermind why I was home at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night...)

Within the first few minutes of the show, I was immediately taken with the ruggedly handsome sexpot plowing the field, all scruffy-bearded and muscular as if he had just stepped off a Harlequin romance cover. "Who is thaaat?" I wondered. When two little braided girls ran up to this hunk and called him "Pa," i gasped out loud. Was I just -- dare I say it -- lusting after PAAAAA!!!!!?????

Frankly, I felt dirty. I checked out the actor (Cameron Bancroft) again and realized that he might actually be younger than me. Now I just felt annoyed. Laura Ingalls Wilder's epic installation of life on the American frontier certainly hasn't aged since I devoured every book in the third grade. But apparently, I HAVE aged enough to have the hots for a prairie dad. (Next, I'll be smitten with the Ingalls' aging neighbor, Mr. Edwards).

The episode I watched was part of a three-part presentations, which could get picked up for a regular series if it does well in the ratings. If I were 8 years old again, I might have been more jazzed about the episode. As it was, I was too busy wondering how people in the 19th century (including the Native Americans) had access to Crest White Strips. The cast's gleaming white teeth distracted me from their attempts to recreate history on the frontier. Has Michael Landon rolled over in his grave yet? -- Amy

April 12, 2005

Love Walks In

According to Hollywood Reporter, Sarah Jessica Parker will star in the adaptation of "Love Walks In," a novel by poet Marisa de los Santos. Marisa is also a contributor to my friend Nicki's upcoming collection of essays, The May Queen. --Kim

March 29, 2005

Crusade Controversy


The author of a non-fiction chronicle on the third crusade is accusing 20th Century Fox of stealing information from his book for this summer's Ridley Scott epic Kingdom of Heaven, which stars Orlando Bloom. (NYTimes)

March 24, 2005

Are you the next bard?

Check out this choose-your-own adventure game to see if you've got what it takes to be a successful Elizabethan playwright. -- Amy

See You In Court


From now until June 12, there's an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Images of Fashion From the Court of Louis XIV, a rare collection of engraved fashion plates from the 17th century.

And on June 10 & 11 at LACMA, an international panel of experts will further explore many of our modern concepts of fashion by looking at the past. Presentations include music and dance from a ballet performed at Versailles.

F.Y.I., museum admission is waived after five, and is free all day on the second Tuesday of each month. -- Amy

March 23, 2005

We Missed Monsieur

Sadly, the historical thriller Monsieur N played in L.A. for about 4 days before making way for a Hungarian film festival or something like that. According to the official site we'll have to wait and hope it shows up on DVD...unless we want to drive to Palm Desert or Irvine. It stars Philippe Torreton and Richard E. Grant (of The Scarlet Pimpernel). --Kim

Austen Quiz

How do you score on the "So You Think You Know Jane Austen" quiz? (The Guardian) --Kim

March 22, 2005

Scarlet and Black


A friend put me hot on the trail of a 1993 adaptation of Stendhal's enthralling political novel "The Red and the Black." There are two adaptations and this particular one stars Ewan McGregor and Rachel Weisz. I was extremely distressed to discover that it isn't even available on DVD. This striking omission in the DVD canon must be rectified as soon as possible. Luckily there is a petition. Join the fight! Make a Difference! --Kim

March 17, 2005

Ivan "Whoa"...

Burly saxons with frizzy hair, corrupt knights, evil monks, damsels in distress, effeminite kings and, of course, a noble hero. What more could you possibly ask for in a miniseries, I ask? We recently watched Ivanhoe, a 1997 miniseries jointly produced by the BBC and A&E (god bless them both) based on the classic novel by Sir Walter Scott.

The movie kept us on the edge of our seat, with plenty of action, surprising plot turns and captivating character development. Somewhere in the middle of the two-part series, I found myself feeling secretly guilty over the fact that one of the movie's most hateable villains, the Templar Knight Sir Brian Dubois-Guilbert (played by Ciaran Hinds), was beginning to win me over. "Is it wrong of me to be rooting for this horrendous cur?" I wondered, wishing his kidnap victim, Rebecca of York, would fall as madly in love with him as I was beginning to. (In the end, this villain's redemption becomes complete, assuring me I wasn't such a sicko to be rooting for him after all.)

Meanwhile, I found myself less moved by Steven Waddington's portrayal of Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe. "If he were only a mite bit sexier -- or less dopey," I crassly sighed during his most heroic endeavors.

The sword-wielding heroics of the Black Knight (a.k.a Richard the Lionhearted) were fairly swoon-worthy, and the mounting tension in the film's final hour was interrupted only by a truly brilliant comic moment where Prince John and King Richard's mother ordered them to make nice.

All in all i could definitely watch this one again. Hooray for A&E/BBC! -- Amy

March 15, 2005

BBC to Adapt Shakespeare

"The BBC is remaking The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream in its first Shakespeare adaptations for 15 years," reports The Guardian. The adaptations will star Rufus Sewell, (Middlemarch, Cold Comfort Farm, and the upcoming Tristan & Isolde) Shirley Henderson, (Bridget Jones, Intermission, and Sophia Coppola's next film Marie-Antionette) and Damian Lewis from Speilberg's Band of Brothers. --Kim

March 11, 2005

This Girl's Life

The Life of Suzanne le Peletier, ""Mademoiselle Nation," would make a fascinating film. You can see her portrait on exhibit at the Getty through April 24. --Kim

February 15, 2005

Test Your Knowledge

If you're the type of person who knows the difference between Becky Sharpe and Becky Thatcher, test your literary knowledge with this selection of quizzes.

February 7, 2005

Austen, Indian-style

Time magazine didn't seem to love the new "Bollywood" spin on Jane Austen, "Bride & Prejudice," but I'm still intrigued by the idea of this Indian adaptation from the maker of "Bend It Like Beckham." Like 19th century England, modern India has a similar social conservatism that makes it a nice backdrop for Austen's tale of courtship and classism. Of course, this version has some glitzy musical numbers thrown in for good measure, like when the protagonist sings, "I just wanna man who gives some back/Who talks to me and not my rack." (I'm sold!)

The article in Time also referenced another version of Pride & Prejudice set among a group of young Mormons. It sort of sounds like a squeaky clean "Clueless" knock-off, but perhaps I'll eventually check it out. -- Amy

January 27, 2005

Son of a Gun

When Kim and I discovered a 14-installment film series about a rifle-totin' British hottie fighting in the Peninsular War, we prayed we had found the terra firma answer to Horatio Hornblower.

Yet while Sharpe's Rifles, Part I, bore a remote resemblence to the A&E Hornblower series in terms of genre, neither the movie nor its hero are really fit to share honors with our favorite seafarer.

True, Richard Sharpe cut a fine figure and intrigued us with his attempts to endear himself to the disrespectful men under his command. Yet hideous strains of electric guitar music (think "Top Gun" soundtrack) and a laughable romance that seemed ripped from the pages of a Harlequin paperback (a LITERAL roll in the hay!) made us simply unable to swear our allegiance to watching 13 more of these. We'll probably give it one more shot (No pun intended) just to see where Sharpe's half-cocked attitude and raging libido lead him next. Maybe he'll grow on us. Or perhaps we're gluttons for punishment. -- Amy

January 24, 2005

DaVinci Code Gets Instant Cred Boost

French favorite Audrey Tautou (Amelie) has signed on to play opposite Tom Hanks in the adaptation of Dan Brown's bestseller The DaVinci Code. (THR via Defamer.com)

January 19, 2005

Beowulf and Robert Burns

Hot Scott Gerard Butler (The Phanton in The Phantom of the Opera) is set to play Beowulf in this year's Beowulf & Grendel. According to IMDB the film will co-star Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter, Go, Dawn of the Dead) and Stellan Skarsgård (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville). Butler will also play Robert Burns in the forthcoming film Burns, with Julia Stiles portraying the poet's wife. --Kim

The Lovely Bones

Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has optioned the film rights to Alice Seybold's bestselling novel The Lovely Bones. I'll be curious to see how this novel, narrated by a young girl who details her rape and murder and the subsequent attempts of her family to solve the crime, will translate onscreen. I'll have to wait until 2007 to find out. (Guardian UK) --Kim

January 12, 2005

"Curious" Alert

Steve Kloves, who wrote the first four Harry Potter flicks, will direct the screen version of Mark Haddon's bestselling novel, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time." The story is told from the perspective of an autistic teenager on a sleuthing mission to determine who murdered his neighbor's poodle; An entertaining and insightful read. -- Amy

Recommended Reading

"I am not so sure I should like the facts of life, but I have got over the bitter disappointment I felt when I first heard about them, and one obviously has to try them sooner or later." -- Cassandra Mortmain

A cross between a Jane Austen novel and "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret," Dodie Smith's "I Capture the Castle" is a charming novel about a girl's coming of age in a ramshackle English castle in the early part of the 20th century. There's a film version, starring Romola Garai, but I highly recommend checking out the novel as I don't believe the movie could ever capture the young narrator's endearing inner voice quite so well as the book does.

Thanks, Meg, for the recommendation...
--Amy

January 11, 2005

Tastes Great, Less Filling

The adaptation of Rex Pickett's novel Sideways is a critical success, garnering seven Golden Globe nominations. Here Karla Peterson explains that if you loved the movie, the book is a perfect complement. --Kim

January 5, 2005

Bawdy Bard's Tales to be Told on BBC

TiVo Alert: BBC will present four modern adaptions of stories from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, beginning Saturday night with The Wife of Bath. Details are here.