Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Category: film

When A Movie Heads South

STATUS: Out of the office and it’s busy! All good stuff though.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I WILL POSSESS YOUR HEART by Death Cab For Cutie

Or in other words, you know a movie has jumped the shark when your two nieces under the age of 15 start heckling the movie screen.

Yesterday I took my lovely nieces (one age 10, the other age 14) to see the movie CITY OF EMBER. Both of them had read and loved, loved, loved the book so they were pretty stoked to go see the movie adaptation.

And the movie certainly started very strong. Good world building. Good characters (my 14-year old niece assures me that Doon, played by the young actor Harry Treadaway, is quite hot). Good strong plot points.

We were all very happy with it.

Then about 35 minutes before the movie’s end, something happened and let me tell you, my two nieces noticed it right off. Suddenly the movie lost its plot and turned into a Disney-like theme park ride where the events that happened in the ending minutes didn’t really tie up the plot. In fact, the movie became kind of silly.

It was the after-school showing and there was no one else in the theater (so fun to have a private screening!) so my nieces started heckling the movie (a la Mystery Science theater style).

Call them cynical but I call them real. Even I could tell the movie had started to miss and my nieces had no compunction against saying so. It seems to me that this is simply an instance of adult writers (and movie makers) completely underestimating the audience and doing some sappy, simplified ending rather than something that would really conclude the story.

Because I see this so often in children’s submissions—where it’s obvious that the adult writers have also underestimated the audience—it seemed worth mentioning here.

However, CITY OF EMBER is a brilliant book and it’s not Jeanne DuPrau’s fault they mucked it so get thee a copy.


One Book, One Denver

STATUS: Another late night but I’m finally getting caught up after vacation.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DANCING IN THE DARK by Bruce Springsteen

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for One Book, One Denver hosted by Denver Mayor Hickenlooper. One of the fun aspects of being involved in Denver’s literary scene is that I get invited to interesting events.

So the launch party is the big reveal that happens before the press releases are officially out and about. I personally had no inkling as to what book they were going to choose for the city-wide book club.

And I have to say, I was a little surprised and here it is.


When I chatted with some of the committee members, they mentioned that they were really looking for a fun but literary book that all kinds of readers could get behind. Makes sense to me.

So what do you think about the choice?

For my part, it’s certainly one of my favorite movies. Nick & Nora and their very brainy sidekick/family dog, Asta, solve the crime and save the day.

Heck, I think the book is worth reading just to watch the movie again. And if you aren’t into classics, this just might be the film to win you over (with its 4 Oscars and all).


90210

STATUS: It’s been a busy day so far and I still have one meeting scheduled for this afternoon and then dinner with another Hollywood co-agent tonight.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BLUES BEFORE AND AFTER by The Smithereens

Got back to my hotel around midnight last night. I couldn’t quite make myself blog so late; sorry about that.

I flew into LA yesterday for Book Expo. I came early to meet with a variety of Hollywood co-agents. Some I’ve worked with for years and quite a few whom I am meeting for the very first time (even though I’ve worked with them on projects). Some are brand, brand new as I’ve heard good things from other agents and producers and I want to be on their radars and vice versa.

Meetings with Hollywood co-agents are not unlike meetings with editors in New York. The film agents talk about their current clients and what they are working on and I talk about my clients and what books I’ve recently sold. Most of my meetings have been located in the zipcode area of 90210—otherwise known as Beverly Hills.

Now I’m definitely getting the scoop on what is currently selling in the film world but I’m weighing whether it’s all that valuable to share with blog readers. Why? Because Hollywood changes its mind every 4 to 6 months. So whatever is considered “hot” right now will change when a new film releases and either “breaks out” or doesn’t. Even though Hollywood moves at a glacial pace in terms of production, it still bases its buying decisions on what currently has done well.

I know. Doesn’t make sense to me either. So, there isn’t much point in sharing the info really. Not to mention, it’s not what I base my decision on when taking a on a project for representation. I just take on what I really love etc.

But I know you readers would want to know anyway despite the fact it really can have no bearing on any work-in-progress as only a very small percentage of books published actually get optioned for film.

You gluttons for punishment! Okay, I’ll tell you. Every single film agent has asked me whether I have any projects that would fit the bill for the all-encompassing family entertainment segment (in other words, projects with enough appeal to hit the four quadrants outlined by the family—mom-friendly, enough action for dad, and something that will appeal to both teens and kids. If you have the next Shrek, they are all over it.

Right now no one is willing to risk a women-driven historical (that is until the next independent film maker has a wild success in that field which could happen at any time.)

And I found out who the real life person the character of Ari Gold on my fav show Entourage is “loosely” based off of. But perhaps Hollywood gossip should stay in Hollywood. Or 90210 as the case might be…


Book Expo

STATUS: Getting to this blog entry late tonight. It’s Friday night and Kristin is not out and about on the town. I’m actually working… I want to finish things up before I leave for LA on Tuesday.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I PUT A SPELL ON YOU by Bryan Ferry

BEA. BEA. You keep hearing the acronym but what is BEA? It stands for Book Expo America. It happens every spring and it’s basically the publishing industry’s way of launching the fall list with a big bang.

The fair itself is really geared more towards booksellers and librarians who come out in droves to get free ARCs [advanced reading copies] of all the big books for the fall. Each publisher hosts a “booth,” which can be half the length of the convention floor so some booths are big. In their booths, they spotlight authors, titles, have posters up and free ARCs. Lots of attendees come with suitcases so as to ship books back.

By the way, a couple of years ago they banned anything on wheels from the convention floor. However, you can have a “storage” space on the lower floor to store your books and UPS has ground shipping there and available for easy delivery.

Big authors host talks, breakfasts, big signings, etc. There are industry panels for education on publishing-related topics. I’m looking forward to hearing Jeff Bezos talk on Friday afternoon. (For those of you who don’t know, he is the current CEO of Amazon.com.)

So what is there for an agent to do? Lots actually. Last year I had 5 authors spotlighted at BEA so I made sure everything went smoothly for them. This year I don’t have any (talk about feast or famine…) so my time will be spent attending some panels, checking in with a few editors who will be at the booths, and my main focus is on Hollywood co-agents who handle book-to-film type deals on the behalf of literary agents.

I’m touching base with the folks I already work with (on a variety of projects) and then I’m meeting some new co-agents for the first time whom I might enjoy working with on future projects. BEA is all about the networking.

There is also the Rights Center. Literary Agents will often take a table in the rights center in order to hold meetings with editors there as well as with reps from foreign publishers for foreign rights etc. Last year I met with a lot of Audio publishers just to get to know those editors a bit better.

So that’s where I’m headed on Tuesday and I look forward to reporting from the floor. If I remember (knock on wood), I’ll take the camera (although I can use my trusty iPhone) and share pics etc. Expect blog entries to come late as my day is packed with meetings so there won’t be time to blog until the late evening.

Have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day Weekend.

I’m out!


Grumpy About WGA Strike

STATUS: Mail arrived! Hooray. Huge stack too. And there were royalty statements and checks. I told you so.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? FIND THE RIVER by R.E.M.

Most normal people might be grumpy because of the dearth of interesting programming on the telly right now. I’m annoyed because it’s keeping one of my projects in film limbo because the script needs reworking. Since the screenwriters are on strike, no revisions allowed.

I got a call today from my film co-agent just to update me that there is no update. Good to know and I’m glad she called, just to stay in touch. (It tells me she’s still employed; there are lots of rumors about mass firings that may be imminent in Hollywood).

But I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking, “who do I need to bribe to get the parties back to the negotiating table?”

Starbucks anyone? I’m buying.


Hollywood or Bust?

STATUS: Busy. On the phone all day. Almost literally.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL by The Rolling Stones

Or Bust for sure right now. Can you say reruns? It’s not just your TV screens going dark. The current strike in Hollywood will be impacting the book industry. Right now, it’s not clear as to how much—yet.

Book-to-film options are still happening but there may be a slowdown. Too soon to tell. If an option has already been bought and the screenplay delivered, then that project is probably sitting pretty.

If the screenplay needs revisions, then the strike hurts because screenwriters are on strike. I just hope both sides go back to the negotiating table soon. Right now that’s not looking likely.


Great Covers, Film Deals, Good PR, That’s What This Job Is About!

STATUS: It’s one of those days where everything has come together. It makes being an agent perfect.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SONO ANDATI from La Bohème

First off I get the news that my author Kim Reid is going to have a live interview about her memoir NO PLACE SAFE on NPR this Oct. 10th.

She will be on the program News & Notes (which is the flagship African-American talk radio program on National Public Radio and is hosted by Farai Chideya).

I love NPR and it’s always a special thrill to have an author spotlighted on their radio program.

Then I finally get to share my most recent exciting film news. Universal’s Strike Entertainment has optioned Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted, Inc. Look for the Deal Lunch announcement to appear soon. This is especially thrilling because this deal has been three years in the making—not to mention this project was optioned by a whole other company about a year ago and that deal fell through. It’s the little film option that could!

And then, cherry on top, I receive the most gorgeous cover for a recently sold young adult project. It’s always amazing when a publisher gets it exactly right. Brooke and I are so in love with this cover, so if you hate it, I don’t want to hear about it.

Just kidding. Well…maybe not.


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