Humorist James Thurber's beloved story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," first published in 1941 and brought to the silver screen in 1947, is in development for a remake. Steven Spielberg is reported by various sources to be attached to direct Jim Carrey in the lead role of daydreamer Mitty for Paramount Pictures. Richard LaGravenese will adapt. The 1947 film, directed by Norman McLeod, featured Danny Kaye in the lead; incidentally, Thurber allegedly offered producer Samuel Goldwyn $10,000 to not make the film. The original story is collected in The Thurber Carnival (Perennial Classics); it can also be read online.
Keith, an adaptation of a short story by Ron Carlson is being developed for Miramax by Todd Kessler (creator of the children's show Blue's Clues) and Rebecca Goldstein at No Hands Productions. Carlson is the author of eight books of fiction, four of which are story collections -- A Kind of Flying (2003), At the Jim Bridger (2003), The Hotel Eden (1997), Plan B for the Middle Class, and The News of the World (1987). His short stories have appeared in Esquire, Harper's, The New Yorker, Gentlemen's Quarterly, Epoch, The North American Review, and other journals, as well as The Best American Short Stories, The O'Henry Prize Series, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. He is Foundation Professor and Regents' Professor of English at Arizona State University.
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Feature film rights to "The Brief History of the Dead," a story by Kevin Brockmeier first published in The New Yorker in September 2003, were purchased by Warner Bros. Pictures. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn will adapt while Chris Columbus will produce and direct. The story, about a blind man who arrives in a new town to tell a story of having traveled across a desert after his death, is also the first chapter of Brockmeier's unfinished novel of the same name. Brockmeier is also the author of the short story collectionThings That Fall From the Sky.Read the New Yorker story online.
James Mangold and wife, producer Cathy Konrad, formed Tree Line Films and the first project slated for the new production company is Follow Me, based on a short story by Paul Griner from his 1995 collection of the same name, published by Random House. Mangold is to direct. The logline for the thriller is "A mysterious woman hires a surveillance man to follow her around with a camera." Perhaps Griner was inspired by Sophie Calle. Griner's stories have been published in Zoetrope, Playboy, Story, Bomb, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, and others. Two of his stories can be found online: "Northwood" at Zoetrope and "Grass" at Ploughshares.
Bestselling author Stephen King's short story about a bestselling horror author who decides to stay overnight in a haunted room of a New York City hotel -- "1408," named in reference to the room number -- is being adapted by Matt Greenberg for Dimension Studios of Miramax. The story was first "published" in the three-story, audio-only collection, Blood and Smoke. With On Writing, King's "memoir of the craft," an excerpt of the story is printed, both a first draft version titled "The Hotel Story" and an edited version for comparison.
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Alec Baldwin is set to star in the film adaptation of John Cheever's famous short story "The Swimmer." Cheever has penned seven collections of stories, along with five novels. "The Swimmer," about a man who decides to swim home across the backyard pools of his neighbors, is collected in The Stories of John Cheever which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 and has been in reprint ever since.
In development for the screen since 2000 (see August 00, below), David Schickler's story "The Smoker," has been taken over by Scott Rudin Productions with Peter Tolan to adapt for Paramount and Betty Thomas to direct. So far, Natalie Portman is on board for the cast. The story debuted in The New Yorker Summer Fiction 2000 issue and was thereafter collected in his first book, the collection Kissing in Manhattan.
Two more short stories by the late Andre Dubus -- "Adultery" and "We Don't Live Here Anymore" -- are set for the screen under the title Anymore as adapted by Larry Gross. Previously, the film In the Bedroom, based on the Dubus story "Killings," was more than well-received in 2001 with Sissy Spacek taking a Golden Globe Award for her role in the picture, as well as an Oscar nomination. Anymore (which was formerly title "Adultery" while in development) began shooting in April 2003 and plans to release sometime in 2004. Directed by John Curran, it centers around two couples whose relationships are threatened by adultery, starring Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Naomi Watts and Peter Krause. The story "Adultery" is collected in Selected Stories by Andre Dubus, as is the story "Killings."
Michael Connelly, author of Blood Work which was released as a major motion picture starring Clint Eastwood in 2002, struck a deal to develop his short story, "Two-Bagger," into a screenplay to be entitled Angel City Bullet. "Two-Bagger" uses a baseball setting as a backdrop for a story of divided attentions and is one of only a handful of short stories written by this novelist most famed for his Harry Bosch series character. The story originally appeared in a 2001 collection of mystery stories, all about baseball, edited by Otto Penzler, called Murderers' Row (New Millennium Press) and has since been additionally collected in The Best American Mystery Stories 2002 (Mariner Books), edited by James Ellroy.
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Miramax has optioned the short story "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown" by Damon Runyon as it was the basis for the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls, which the studio is now adapting for film. "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown" is the second story in a collection of 32 Runyon stories found in Guys and Dolls: The Stories of Damon Runyon.
The Man Who Could Work Miracles, a remake of a 1936 comedy film based on a 1898 short story of the same name by H.G. Wells, is in the works at Columbia Pictures. Wells made his writing debut with The Time Machine (1895) and later went on to write The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898), among many others.
Based on a short story of the same name by Max Allan Collins, A Matter of Principal, about a retiree with insomnia who returns to his former career as a hit man, is in development by Yume Pictures Entertainment. The author has had other works adapted to screen, including his graphic novel Road to Perdition that Sam Mendes made into a film, and is known for creating three popular suspense series: Nolan, Quarry and Mallor. He has also written four historical thrillers and is a writer of short fiction ("Louise," collected in the anthology Deadly Allies, was a 1992 Mystery Writers of America Edgar nominee for best short story). A Matter of Principal was first published in 1989 in Stalkers, an anthology of 18 horror stories of predatory killers; it is of the Quarry series, which was the first series to be based on the exploits of a hired killer.
The late Max Shulman's now out-of-print 1951 story collection, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, is being developed for the screen under the same name by Chartoff Productions. Shulman wrote the stories in 1945 for various magazines, and in 1953 a movie adaptation entitled The Affairs of Dobie Gillis starred Bobby Van and Debbie Reynolds. In 1959 the stories were once again adapted, for what became a popular television series that ran until 1963. For an unauthorized celebration of Dobie Gillis, check out this fan site.
Asia Argento is to adapt, direct and star in a movie based on J.T. Leroy's story collection The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. Leroy was around the age of 16 when his raw autobiographical stories began to be published and subsequently brought him a cult following. It didn't hurt that Mary Gaitskill took this Tenderloin kid under her wing, either. The project is being developed by Muse Productions. Leroy also has his novel, Sarah, being adapted into a film by Gus Van Sant. For more about this upcoming writer, often compared to William S. Burroughs, visit his official website.
Argento is currently hot as an actress, starring with Vin Diesel in the action thriller XXX. She is the daughter of Italian thriller director Dario Argento (Trauma 1993) and made her feature directorial debut in 2000 with Scarlet Diva. She is also a the author of numerous short stories, published in Italian literary journals.
The 19th century classic short story/novella Carmen by Prosper Mérimée that inspired the popular opera of the same name will be adapted for screen, yet again, this time by Craig Pearce for Universal with Jennifer Lopez attached. Carmen is a story within a story, passionate, and considered immoral at the time of its publishing in 1845. Read an excerpt from Carmen and Other Stories by this early short story master.
Dostoevski's short story, "The Gambler," is in development by Franchise Pictures under the title Alex and Emma with Rob Reiner attached as director and Robert Downey Jr. and Kate Hudson as talent.
Michael Chabon has an upcoming book of short stories, but the fact that they aren't written yet hasn't stopped Miramax from snapping up the film rights. A six-figure deal was negotiated for the book, called Tales of Mystery and Imagination (incidentally, also the title of a 1996 collection of the best of Edgar Allen Poe's short stories). Chabon is also adapting his The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay for Paramount Pictures and Scott Rudin, the producer of Wonder Boys. Chabon has an interesting website to check out -- he has downloads available, including one of his screenplay drafts and an unsold treatment.
"Pretending the Bed is a Raft" by Nanci Kincaid is being developed by Good Machine and El Deseo as My Life Without Me. Isabel Coixet will adapt this story based on a woman who makes a "to-do" list in an attempt at acceptance of pending death from cancer. This story was the title story of Kincaid's first collection. Pedro Almodovar is on board as a producer.
Harlan Ellison's short story "Along the Scenic Route" is to be adapted for screen by Cyrus Vorris and Ethan Reiff under the title Drive, to be directed by Alex Proyas for Paramount.
Cosmic Entertainment, a production company owned by Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, bought film and television rights to the recently discovered Mark Twain story, "A Murder, A Mystery and a Marriage," from the Buffalo, NY city library. The 8,000 word story was published for the first time in the July/August 2001 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, followed by a release in book form by Norton in September 2001. The story was intially written for The Atlantic Monthly 125 years ago as a sort of game concocted by Twain, who was from Buffalo, in which he would provide a "skeleton plot" from which he and other authors of the day would construct their own independent stories. Twain was the only author to write a story based on the skeleton plot and thus, it never saw print until this year.
News of the deal broke by Associated Press & Reuters via CNN. Download the first two chapters courtesy of the Buffalo Library. Buy the book, A Murder, A Mystery and a Marriage.Read Roy Blount's foreword from the July/August Atlantic Monthly.
Seven Arts Pictures will produce No Good Deed, adapted from a short story of Dashiell Hammett adapted by Christopher Canaan. This thriller is set to star Samuel Jackson. Hammett, known for his detective stories, is the author of The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man.
Rebecca Miller is set to both write and direct Enter Fleeing which is based on Personal Velocity, her book of short stories due to be published in September by Grove Press. Independent Digital Entertainment, IFC Productions and Goldheart Pictures will realize the project and have Kyra Sedgwick and Parker Posey on board. Miller's feature film, Angela, was released in 1996. Personal Velocity is her fiction debut.
Producers Alan Marshall and Jeremy Thomas are bringing in Paul Verhoeven to direct The Source, based on a short story by Guy de Maupassant and adapted by Julie Talen and Gerard Soeteman.
Chris Isenberg, Rick Moody and David Foster Wallace have all had stories bought by Gail Niederhofer, who will develop "See You in Italy" (Isenberg), "James Dean Garage Band" (Moody), and "Little Expressionless" (Wallace) for the screen.
Crusader Entertainment will turn a short story by Truman Capote into the movie Children on their Birthdays, which will give Mark Medoff his directorial debut.
The short story "Secretary" by Mary Gaitskill from her first collection, Bad Behavior, will be adapted for screen by Erin Cressida Wilson for Double A Films.
Another dinosaur-hunting tale will hit the screen, this time adapted from the Ray Bradbury short story "A Sound of Thunder." Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer wrote the adaptation for Franchise Pictures & it is possible that Renny Harlin will direct.
Susan Vreeland reportedly received a mid-six figure sum for film rights to her novel of eight interrelated short stories, Girl in Hyacinth Blue, tracing the fate of a Vermeer which will be produced by Hallmark Entertainment, the most active producer of miniseries and television movies. Girl in Hyacinth Blue was Vreeland's second book, and it hit many noteworthy bestseller lists including that of the New York Times, LA Times, Booksense and Amazon.com. As well, it won the Publisher's Weekly Best Books of the Year in 1999.
A movie to be made from the children's short story, Pet Boy, by Keith Graves (Chronicle Books, Nov. 2000) has been bought by Paramount & Nickelodeon Films. Turns out, though, that even before publication, the story has been in the movie pipelines. The movie version, titled "Alien Pet Store," was originally announced for development by Universal . Turnaround sent it to Nickelodeon Movies where Chris Bird adapted the screenplay. Bird, however, now seems to be out of the picture as this new acquisition by Paramount slates Dan Schneider, screenwriter of the 1997 Good Burger, for the adaptation. On board throughout is illustrator Graves whose images are quirky, if not just absolutely wild, and will make for a fun-filled experience no matter who is behind the project. For a sneak peak at the work of Graves, check out the entire storybook of Pet Boy, online at Vanguard Films.
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ICM & Berg/Saccani Entertainment negotiated a low-to-mid six-figure deal with Canton Company, Senator Entertainment to produce a new version of a Nathaniel Hawthorne short story, entitled "Rappaccini's Daughter." A former assistant at Disney, Ann Cherkis will adapt.
Classic short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster," from two-time Pulitzer Poetry Prize winner Stephen Vincent Benet, will be adapted for screen to mark the directorial debut of Alec Baldwin under the production companies of Cutting Edge Entertainment and El Dorado Pictures.
Two of Melissa Bank's stories from The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing ("My Old Man" and "The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine") sold to Catch 23 Entertainment. Bank is represented by Rabineau Wachter Lit. Agency. The collection's title story is already owned by Francis Ford Coppola and Zoetrope Studios.
David Schickler does it again. Shortly after the sale of his story "The Smoker" this past summer, he is set to adapt his story "Kissing in Manhattan" into script form for Wildwood Enterprises.
Two writers featured in the New Yorker summer fiction issue, David Schickler and Z.Z. Packer scored quick Hollywood deals for their stories. Schickler is to pen the feature script based on his story, "The Smoker," which sold to Scott Rudin Productions.
The Shooting Gallery has production plans for the T.C. Boyle story "King Bee" and has hired two writers for the adaptation: Jon Felson and Rusty Gorman. "King Bee" is from 1988 and is collected in T.C. Boyle Stories.