Out of the blue, a pair of award-winning screenwriters optioned my second book, Smasher, back in 2010. Reading the actual script last fall, I could just imagine the characters up on the silver screen in the local multiplex. Alas, not going to happen--at least not anytime soon. The option expired a few weeks ago. The screenwriters told me they have picked up assignments from producers who liked their treatment, but Smasher: The Movie was not going to be “greenlighted.” My agent went on suicide watch, but I had expected nothing so wasn’t disappointed (much).
What about my next book? In her review of Drop By Drop, Lynn Farris wrote she “wouldn't be surprised to see this as an upcoming movie. Five stars out of five." So why not Drop By Drop as feature-length film even if not Smasher? Why not go along with the fantasy? After all, I live in the world of fiction. Let’s cast the film!
Here’s a précis of Drop By Drop:
Stanford professor Sam Rockman suffers the crushing loss of his wife in a bombing at San Francisco Airport. Seeking meaning in the ruins of his life, he accepts an offer to work for the Senate Intelligence Committee. What Sam wants out of his stint in D.C. is revenge for the death of his wife. What he gets is danger and betrayal. Secret documents are showing up on his doorstep. Russians are trying to poison him. Sam finds allies among a savvy Kentucky senator, a billionaire investment banker, his wife's old rabbi, and the president's national security advisor. Too often, he finds himself thrown together with his counterpart on the other side of the aisle, the whip-smart, six-footer Cecilia Plant. Mourning still for his wife, Sam steels himself against Cecilia's appeal and remains suspicious of her motives.
So we have to cast Sam and Cecilia first. We know he’s six feet tall because he’s the same height as she is. Other than that we don’t know what he looks like. Kind of nerdy maybe. After all, he is a Stanford history professor in his mid-thirties. Lots of candidates then but I’m going to with Jake Gyllenhaal. He’s six feet tall and 32 years old. Earnest in Love and Other Drugs, driven in Source Code. He should be bankable, too.
Next is Cecilia. Getting this part right is the key to the movie. Readers love her. Joe Hartlaub wrote in his review in Bookreporter.com, “With regard to the characters, Plant almost steals the book from Rockman; if Raffel would see fit to bring her back in a future work, I certainly wouldn’t object.” Here she is in her first meeting with Sam:
“We need to get the motherfuckers who did that.” She didn’t snarl as she cursed. She spoke in soft tones, as if to minimize the attention that would come unbidden to a foul-mouthed, red-headed woman with a seventy-five inch span between the tips of her heels and the crown of her head.
She’s six-feet tall (the extra three inches are from her heels) and an ex-athlete. Wait, I got it! Adrianne Palicki. She’s within an inch of six-feet. She can definitely handle the bad language--having played bad-girl Tyra Collette in "Friday Night Lights." While in high school she played basketball and ran track. I’ve seen her on the screen as both a blonde and as a brunette; no reason to think she wouldn’t look just as great with auburn tresses. (Calling Clairol!) And even when she played a bad girl, she projected underlying intelligence.
Did I mention I myself worked for the Senate just as Sam Rockman did? One of my colleagues back in those days was Fred Thompson who (much later) showed his acting chops on TV’s "Law and Order." And he actually served as a senator from Tennessee. Not too much of a stretch then to see him playing a member of the upper house representing the neighboring state of Kentucky. (Always glad to help out a former colleague.)
George measured no taller than five-five, an inch shorter than Rachel and weighed in at about 130, only five pounds more than her. No banker’s suit for George. He wore khakis with a crease sharp enough to slice a loaf of bread and a blue-striped button-down crisp enough to crackle like cellophane.
Let’s go with Ryan Phillippe most recently seen on TV in "Damages." A baby-faced 38 he makes the age cut.
My own rabbi says she likes the fact that rabbis in my novels are not figures of fun. Can comedic actor Paul Rudd play a serious clergyman? I say yes.
The president’s national security advisor is a tough, cigarette-smoking, New York dame. Let’s go with Dianne Wiest of "In Treatment" and Hannah and Her Sisters.
And finally, what about President Lucas? Here we see him on TV:
The guy looked so damned presidential. He reached the same six foot four Lincoln had. His hair was swept back in a Reaganesque pompadour. An aversion to ties part of his brand, he wore an open-neck French blue shirt and navy blazer. He conveyed to the voters that he was no empty suit, but the perfect fit of his clothing, the way his jacket hung from his shoulders, distinguished him from Joe Sixpack even more surely than gray pinstripes.
Here’s the casting coup of the 21st century. Mitt Romney was a neighbor of a friend of mine. I met him at her birthday party. Don’t know how good an actor he would be, but from the description of President Lucas above it wouldn’t be much of a stretch, would it? And it’s my hunch that he will be looking for work after the first Tuesday of November.
Keith’s Drop By Drop is available for a free download from Amazon.com through Saturday. (Click here.)
Thanks to imdb.com, igossip.com, huffington post, Wikipedia, accesshollywood.com, and mediaite.com for the photos above.