Wait how many more seasons will Warner Bros have? And how will the script be adapted? For Blumhouse, the film will debut as a limited, 90-minute film (with full music by Linklater) this summer…. Meanwhile, in the book world, Stephen King has posted a piece he wrote a couple of years ago about his experience playing Merrily in a Hollywood production. Here’s an excerpt
It is one of the most beloved characters in American pop culture, a lovable little redneck in a land of rednecks, and it’s a lot of fun to play. With The Mist, Mr. King plays to the strengths of his character. In the previous movie (American Psycho and no, he didn’t write that book), Patrick Bateman grew so sick of the hero worship and hokey Hollywood melodrama that he turned into a murderous monster. That was a change from the character Mr. King started in Merrily for the first time: he’d gotten very sick of all the hokey Broadway crap. The original screenplay for The Thin Red Line was about a poor immigrant. His only friends were an Irish prostitute and a black cab driver. His wife fell in love with a rich guy from the South. The real character was a man from America with an Irish son who grew into a man of great dignity but who never got his shit together enough to move out of a motel. He wanted to set up a chain of restaurants all across this country. Not quite the plot of a B-movie in the way Merrily is set up, the original script really wasn’t too bad. But the film itself wasn’t as good. In fact, the movie was pretty terrible. Not so much for the tone (it was about an abused son who gets a new job at the motel manager’s office it was the kind of movie you wrote and shot in an afternoonbut for the actingI’m not very good at it) but for the direction. (The cast and crew were really good, although the director, Joel Surnow, didn’t get much credit for making the movie.)
So why did the film have to be made? Why wasn’t the script rewritten and the character changed? If The Thin Red Line is the kind of movie where it takes a while for the hero to catch up with his shit because he’s a loser without enough dignity, where did Merrily and the other Merrily books come from?
The answer, of course, is the film industry at large. For decades, the notion of making a movie like The Thin Red Line was a pipe dream. And now it’s been turned into a realitywith an Oscar for Best Pictureand the success is just another piece of evidence demonstrating the extent to which the production and distribution of movies has changed since the days of the “takes everything except the soul” of American film, when a film that couldn’t find a distributor and earned a pittance made it onto every screen by simply existing. Like an American dream, the movie industry is now a house of cards. This one house of cards is the creation of two companies: Warner Bros. Pictures (which bought the title rights from Warner Bros. for $400 million) and Disney Pictures (which bought Merrily and the other Merrily books from Blumhouse for $7.25 million). These two corporations were the first companies in the world to start marketing movies after the movie rights to the properties were obtained as part of a publishing deal. While the deal with Warner Bros., Disney and Blumhouse will keep these guys in business for one more few decades, there’s more to this story.
The film industry and their marketing and distribution methods are being dramatically altered while the artists and authors of the past get left behind. But there will be no one left behind. In fact, there will be many more.
If you haven’t heard of A.J. Liebling, that is no mystery at all. In 1961 he published his first novel, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, which was a big seller and has been in print continuously ever since. And on December 25, 2009, the last edition of his work will be publishedthe last book to be published under the name of A.J. Liebling. A book is an ancient form of writing. The past thirty years have seen a major transformation of the art of writing. Most are best read in order, if you want to take your time. For some, reading is as simple as turning on your computer and going to your search engine and typing in the title of the book you’re interested in. The internet is the new writing center because it makes it easy to access all sorts of literary resources at once. But the new writing center doesn’t even represent the greatest advantage for new writers. Instead, it represents, for the most part, the greatest disadvantage. For there are a few writers who would never choose to write on the internet nowthe writers, like Mr. Lie