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 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 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 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 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'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. 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