Category Archives: Film

Paul and Me [reboot]

In remembrance of Paul on his birthday, I bring back an updated post from the past.

NOTE: This was supposed to post a week ago on January 25, but I messed up. Sorry.

~~~

This is about the first novel I had published, La Desperada.

It’s about the script adaptation I wrote that was based on that novel.

It’s about Paul Newman.

It’s about a lot of things.

But mainly, it’s about how (if I want to do the Hollywood stretch) I almost wrote a script for Paul.

Or if you want to do the reality check, it’s about how I maybe almost talked to him on the phone. I think.

Mainly, it’s about my writing, my western, my attempts to get it made as a movie, and my new efforts to bring out the ebook, and finally see it in print again.

And it’s about a book by Gwendon Swarthout called The Homesman.

Some years ago one of the producers on the film UNFORGIVEN read my western script, liked it a lot, and said to me, “You know, as I was reading this, I thought, this is the writer who needs to adapt THE HOMESMAN for Paul Newman.”

That is a moment. A Moment. Somebody actually tied me as a screenwriter to a project for Paul Newman. Not that he was in position to do anything about it, mind you. But still. It put an idea in my head. (Dangerous place for ideas, my head.)

I read THE HOMESMAN and loved a lot of it–except for (no spoiler here, I’m restraining myself with great difficult) how the female protagonist dealt with her loss near the end. And I knew, yes, I could write the hell out of this script, but not if Paul (he was Paul in my mind by this point) wanted THAT to happen!

Brace yourself.

I wrote Paul (well, it was official correspondence so I called him Mr. Newman as it didn’t seem right to call him Paul) and told him what I’d been told, and that I’d love to offer myself up for the task of adapting The Homesman for him.

Yes.

I really did that.

And-

It gets worse.

I did that knowing–KNOWING–that the script he’d been shopping around trying to get made was supposedly causing all sorts of problems because everybody “knew” that despite whatever name was on the script, Paul had written it himself. And nobody wanted to say, “Paul, this script is bad.”

So it didn’t get made, it kept getting passed around, and…

I wrote and offered my services as a screenwriter.

*takes a bow*

Yes, that is chutzpah.

Of course nothing came of it.

Until many months later, I came home from somewhere to find a message on my answering machine. A voice said, “Call for Patricia from Mr Newman.” And when I didn’t answer, there were murmurs and then a voice continued, “Mr Newman wanted to thank you for your interest in The Homesman, but he isn’t looking for a writer at this time. If his plans change, he will let you know.”

I almost fell flat on the floor. ON the FLOOR, people.

First of all, it sounded distinctly as if–had I been home–I might have actually spoken to MR NEWMAN my own sassy self! (That murmuring in the background? I am sure it was Paul-murmurs. Seriously. I could tell.) (Okay, maybe in retrospect I decided I could tell.) (Okay, I have no idea, but it had to be, didn’t it? Oh hush.)

At any event, his asst had called to pass verbally, and so nicely and–

Well, I eventually started breathing again.

And that was the end of it.

My brush with almost maybe writing a script for Paul Newman, okay, maybe almost talking to him on the phone.

Moving forward… I’d had a few people tell me that my book reminded them of Unforgiven in several ways (though my book was published first), and then this mention of my potential skill with the material in the The Homesman, and then…

One day I was looking for book comparisons for my new ebook, La Desperada, so I could say, if you like THIS you might like mine, it has been compared to Unforgiven* only with a love story and sex,” and somebody said, “This might be helpful. Unforgiven was written by a guy who was influenced by a novelist, did you know that? He was influenced by Gwendon Swarthout, who wrote The Shootist and The Homesman.”

As comparisons go, it probably doesn’t help me a lot, as these are books which I suggest very few of my target audience will have ever read.

And yet it felt very odd, like a voice from the distant past bring back a producer from Unforgiven and a near-brush with Paul Newman and The Homesman and…

I like to think that if Gwendon Swarthout had ever written a western with love and sex, somebody just might have said to him, “You know what, this reminds me a lot of that book by Patricia Burroughs….”

* I could tell you about the time my script got couriered to Carmel because Clint wanted to read it, but that would just be name-dropping.

The Nicholl Award-winning script Redemption is available as a download here on Book View Cafe, and in print from Amazon.

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Filed under Books, Fiction & Literary, Film, La Desperada, Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, Writing

And the Oscar goes to…

The year was 1968. If I’m not mistaken, they still said, “The winner is…” back then.

It was a year that would set a record that to this day has yet to be broken:

A tie.

The category was Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role…

Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl.

The kiss that almost launched (another) war.

Everything was going smoothly until a publicity photo of Omar Sharif and Barbra Streisand kissing was released to the newspapers. With the emotions of the Six Day War still running high, the Egyptian press began a campaign to get Sharif’s citizenship revoked over the kiss. The Egyptian headline read: “Omar Kisses Barbra, Egypt Angry.” When asked to respond to the controversy, Barbra Streisand tried to make light of it. “Egypt angry!” she said. “You should hear what my Aunt Sarah said!”  Behind the Camera on Funny Girl

At one point, the studios considered replacing Sharif.

Oy. What a loss that would have been.

And the other winner?

Katharine Hepburn, The Lion in Winter.

My very favorite movie ever.

The most dysfunctional family ever during the most dysfunctional family holiday ever, and my two most favorite actors in the world. Hepburn and O’Toole.

Oh, what an embarrassment of riches we had that year. Did we know it? We must have.

A tie.

Really.

A tie.

And the winners were… us.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Film

Paul and me.

This is about the first novel I had published, La Desperada. It’s about the script adaptation I wrote that was based on that novel.  It’s about Paul Newman. It’s about a lot of things.

But mainly, it’s about how (if I want to do the Hollywood stretch) I almost wrote a script for Paul.

Or if you want to do the reality check, it’s about how I maybe almost talked to him on the phone.

Mainly, it’s about my writing, my western, my attempts to get it made as a movie, and my new efforts to bring out the ebook.

And it’s about a book by Gwendon Swarthout called The Homesman.

Some years ago one of the producers on the film UNFORGIVEN read my western script, liked it a lot, and said to me, “You know, as I was reading this, I thought, this is the writer who needs to adapt THE HOMESMAN for Paul Newman.”

That is a moment. A Moment. Somebody actually tied me as a screenwriter to a project for Paul Newman. Not that he was in position to do anything about it, mind you. But still. It put an idea in my head. (Dangerous place for ideas, my head.)

I read THE HOMESMAN and loved a lot of it–except for (no spoiler here, I’m restraining myself) how the female protagonist dealt with her loss near the end. And I knew, yes, I could write the hell out of this script, but not if Paul (he was Paul in my mind by this point) wanted THAT to happen!

Brace yourself.

I wrote Mr Newman (well, it was official correspondence so it didn’t seem right to call him Paul) and told him what I’d been told, and that I’d love to offer myself up for the task of adapting The Homesman for him.

Yes.

I really did that.

And–it gets worse.

I did that knowing–KNOWING–that the script he’d been shopping around trying to get made was supposedly causing all sorts of problems because everybody “knew” that despite whatever name was on the script, Paul had written it himself. And nobody wanted to say, “Paul, this script is bad.”

So it didn’t get made, it kept getting passed around, and…

I wrote and offered my services as a screenwriter.

*takes a bow*

Yes, that is chutzpah.

Of course nothing came of it.

Until many months later, I came home from somewhere to find a message on my answering machine. A voice said, “Call for Patricia from Mr Newman.” And when I didn’t answer, there were murmurs and then a voice continued, “Mr Newman wanted to thank you for your interest in The Homesman, but he isn’t looking for a writer at this time. If his plans change, he will let you know.”

I almost fell flat on the floor. ON the FLOOR, people.

First of all, it sounded distinctly as if–had I been home–I might have actually spoken to MR NEWMAN my own sassy self! (That murmuring in the background? I am sure it was Paul-murmurs. Seriously. I could tell.) (Okay, maybe in retrospect I decided I could tell.) (Okay, I have no idea, but it had to be, didn’t it? Oh hush.)

At any event, his asst had called to pass verbally, and so nicely and–

Well, I eventually started breathing again.

And that was the end of it.

My brush with almost maybe writing a script for Paul Newman, okay, maybe almost talking to him on the phone.

Moving forward… I’d had a few people tell me that my book reminded them of Unforgiven in several ways (though my book was published first), and then this mention of my potential skill with the material in the The Homesman, and then…

One day I was looking for book comparisons for my new ebook, La Desperada, so I could say, if you like THIS you might like mine, it has been compared to Unforgiven* only with a love story and sex,” and somebody said, “This might be helpful. Unforgiven was written by a guy who was influenced by a novelist, did you know that? He was influenced by Gwendon Swarthout, who wrote The Shootist and The Homesman.”

As comparisons go, it probably doesn’t help me a lot, as these are books which I suggest very few of my target audience will have ever read.

And yet it felt very odd, like a voice from the distant past bring back a producer from Unforgiven and a near-brush with Paul Newman and The Homesman and…

I like to think that if Gwendon Swarthout had ever written a western with love and sex, somebody just might have said to him, “You know what, this reminds me a lot of that book by Patricia Burroughs….”

* I could tell you about the time my script got couriered to Carmel because Clint wanted to read it, but that would just be name-dropping.

The novel La Desperada and the Nicholl Award-winning script Redemption are now available in the same download here on Book View Cafe.

1 Comment

Filed under Fiction & Literary, Film, Novels, Screenwriting, Writers, Writing

A filthy, trashy book.

I don’t believe in banning books.  I believe in ignoring books I don’t like or find offensive but I believe in free speech, even when I hate the speech itself. Lucky for me, I live in the United States of America where this is law.

That doesn’t mean that books have never been banned on a local level, though, and so today I will begin my week of banned books I love.  Most of these are slam-dunk no-brainers. They are the easy ones, the ones you trot out to make the banners look foolish.  Some are tougher to defend, and I’m not sure I’ll try. I’ll simply say that every book on this list is a book I’ve read, used and loved.

Number one: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Oh, how I love this “filthy, trashy novel” and the “filthy, trashy” (I would assume?) movie, too. I was seventeen years old when I saw the movie and it shook me to my core. I then found the book at the school library and read it. I can’t imagine a school library without it.  The subject matter was heavy for me at the time, especially the stark racism to which I had never been exposed, even though my maternal family was from south Mississippi.  The rape, the segregation, the lynching attempts. And yet there was such beauty in that book. Atticus Finch is one of the most perfect characters ever crafted, too perfect some say. But we see him through the eyes of his daughter, and yes, I do think it was an accurate portrayal of what he must have seemed to her in those dark days, her knight in shining armor. He is what we all need in dark days, the glimmer of hope that good might prevail, that one good man or woman can make a difference, and must make an effort…

If you are a parent who finds the subject matter or the language too harsh, my most sincere suggestion would be for you to let your son or daughter read it and then discuss it with them, find out what they’re thinking about it, do whatever damage control you think is necessary. You might be surprised by their responses.  If that is something you are simply unable to consider, then I’d insist that you take action to excuse them from the assignment (if it’s an assigned book) but for goodness sake don’t ask the school to ban the book.  Understand that you have the responsibility and the authority to monitor and control what your kids see, but if you truly value your American heritage, you will understand that your responsibility and authority are to your own kids, not mine.

In my efforts to build my library I have discovered a gaping hole where this book should be, so I just ordered it for my shelf of beloveds.  This makes me very happy.

What the American Library Association reports about this book:

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Challenged in Eden Valley, MN (1977) and temporarily banned due to words “damn” and “whore lady” used in the novel. Challenged in the Vernon Verona Sherill, NY School District (1980)  as a “filthy, trashy novel.” Challenged at the Warren, IN Township schools (1981) because  the book does “psychological damage to the positive integration process” and “represents  institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature.” After unsuccessfully trying to ban Lee’s novel, three black parents resigned from the township human relations advisory  council. Challenged in the Waukegan, IL School District (1984) because the novel uses the  word “nigger.” Challenged in the Kansas City, MO junior high schools (1985). Challenged at  the Park Hill, MO Junior High School (1985) because the novel “contains profanity and  racial slurs.” Retained on a supplemental eighth grade reading list in the Casa Grande, AZ  Elementary School District (1985), despite the protests by black parents and the National  Association for the Advancement of Colored People who charged the book was unfit for junior high use. Challenged at the Santa Cruz, CA Schools (1995) because of its racial themes.  Removed from the Southwood High School Library in Caddo Parish, LA (1995) because the book’s language and content were objectionable. Challenged at the Moss Point, MS School District (1996) because the novel contains a racial epithet. Banned from the Lindale, TX advanced placement English reading list (1996) because the book “conflicted with the values of the community.” Challenged by a Glynn County, GA (2001) School Board member because of profanity. The novel was retained. Returned to the freshman reading list at Muskogee, OK High School (2001) despite complaints over the years from black students and parents about racial slurs in the text. Challenged in the Normal, IL Community High School’s sophomore literature class (2003) as being degrading to African Americans. Challenged at the Stanford Middle School in Durham, NC (2004) because the 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel uses the word “nigger.”  Challenged at the Brentwood, TN Middle School (2006) because the book contains “profanity” and “contains adult themes such as sexual intercourse, rape, and incest.”  The complainants also contend that the book’s use of racial slurs promotes “racial hatred, racial division, racial separation, and promotes white supremacy.”  Retained in the English curriculum by the Cherry Hill, NJ Board of Education (2007).  A resident had objected to the novel’s depiction of how blacks are treated by members of a racist white community in an Alabama town during the Depression.  The resident feared the book would upset black children reading it.  Removed (2009) from the St. Edmund Campion Secondary School classrooms in Brampton Ontario, Canada because a parent objected to language used in the novel, including the word “nigger.”

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Filed under banned books, Building My Library, Fiction & Literary, Film

WWAD?

So the 10 most cliched college dorm posters are fascinating to me, being a mix of some I’ve never seen and iconic images of my own misspent youth.  But the first one, Audrey Hepburn, kind of confuses me a bit.

Not the choice of posters, of course.  I mean, it’s Audrey freaking Hepburn, what could be confusing about that?

It’s the site’s caption that confuses me:

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: It’s simply a fact: college girls love Audrey Hepburn, especially in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Even if they haven’t seen it. Maybe that explains why this classic is taped over every pink bedspread and extra-long mattress. Need a reminder to keep it classy when you’re bringing the Kappa Lambda president back to your place? Just look up and ask, “What would Audrey do?”

Charge for it…?

Perhaps next time they should see the movie first.

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Filed under Art, Film