Sunday Samples- November 13

Hope everyone has had a lovely weekend. It’s been raining all week in my little corner of the globe but today is gorgeously sunny. Never mind that I sit indoors typing away, the blog must come first! With no further ado, here’s the run down on the latest news of adaptation in the media.

Lucy V over at Bang2Write has great advice on copyright and adaptations, check out her column here. I will be covering this topic myself at a future date as it’s an important consideration for any writer debating an adaptation project.  I’ve long harboured a crush on the 2007 novel Clown Girl by Monica Drake. I even used a portion of the novel for a grad school project. Always said I would buy the rights when I had enough time/money/gumption. Guess who beat me? This girl. Don’t be me. Try to find projects in the public domain to avoid the headache of securing rights.

If you don’t secure the rights, the author of the original material may come after you as the creators of Sister Act are discovering the hard way. A nun known as Queen Mother Dr Delois Blakely is suing Disney and Sony Pictures for allegedly using her 1987 autobiography The Harlem Street Nun as inspiration for the movie without her permission. Apparently, Blakely approached a producer at Tri-Star Pictures with an outline for a project based on her book. The producer expressed interest but nothing more was done. Later, another producer at Tri-Star Pictures moved the Sister Act project to Disney. The movie made over $230 million at the box office and inspired sequels and a West End musical. I’m not sure why the author has waited 24 years to bring this issue up, which makes her claims suspicious. It’s not like Sister Act was a little known film that she just came across now. It will be up to courts to decide if her claims have merit.

Scandinavian films are all the rage these days. W2 Media has acquired the rights to create an English-language adaptation of Finnish feature Princess, a film based on the life of cabaret dancer Anna Lappalainen. The film is about a schizophrenic woman in 1945 Finland who checks into a mental hospital and insists to all that she is really a British princess. The Finnish film was released in September 2010 and was a box office hit. Another  upcoming Scandinavian film project is The Hypnotist, a Swedish crime drama based on the first novel in Lars Kepler’s bestselling series. Director Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules) will helm the project with Oscar-winning actress Lena Olin and Finnish TV star Tobias Zilliacus. Filming in Stockholm will take place January 2012 to be released in October 2012. From my limited experience working with Danish media, it appears that Scandinavia has quite a bit of funding for European film projects and are open to foreign co-productions.

In TV news, Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller has created an adaptation for NBC based on the Silence of the Lambs franchise. The film franchise itself is based on the Thomas Harris bestselling novels. No word on the plot of the new TV series, but guesses are that it’ll be some type of police procedural focusing on Hannibal Lecter. Casting will be vital for this series as it is hard to imagine who will replace Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster as Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling. But the real challenge for the writers is making a series dark enough to satisfy fans but light enough for network television. I question the wisdom of bringing this project to NBC as opposed to the cable channels but remain optimistic.

The Huffington Post reports on Steve Carell’s new project Dogs of Babel. The upcoming movie is an adaptation of the 2003 Carolyn Parkhurst novel of the same name. Carell will play linguistic professor Paul Iverson whose wife dies in a mysterious accident. The only witness is the couple’s dog Lorelei. Devestated, he decides to teach Lorelei how to talk in order to find out what really happened to his wife. Surprising that comedy star Carell has chosen to take on such somber material, but time will tell if he will be able to transition into a dramatic actor.

It’s a bad day for the Spiderman musical as yet another cast member suffered an injury on the job.  Matthew James Thomas, who plays Spiderman himself, was injured backstage during a matinee performance and had to go to the hospital for stitches. The Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been plagued with problems since its inception. The musical is based on the famous comic book series and features music by Bono and the Edge. Director Julie Taymor is currently suing the show’s producers.

If you’re in London, be sure to check out the British Film Institute’s new exhibit on Charles Dickens film and TV adaptations. The exhibit will run from January-March 2012 in honor of the upcoming bicentennial celebration of the author’s birth.  It should be quite fascinating to see how the famous author’s works have been adapted over the years. I imagine the choices made would be quite different in a 1920s film versus now. The full line-up will be announced 17 November.

Fellow classical author Edgar Allen Poe is getting the adaptation treatment for his famous short story “The Tell-Tale Heart”. This spooky story is about a man who murders an old man and hides his heart underneath the floorboards of his house. The man eventually goes mad as he hears the still-beating heart under the floorboards. The upcoming film stars Patrick John Flueger, Rose McGowan and Peter Bogdanovich. Rose McGowan plays a new character who may or may not be a figment of the man’s imagination. Director John La Tier is currently shooting the adaptation in New Orleans.

That’s it for today’s Sunday Samples. Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s post where I will be discussing toys at the movies.

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