"Naked" on the Screen
When you close one eye, maybe squint a little with the other, and look at my author photo, I look like Julianne Moore, right? RIGHT?
Nah, I didn't think so either. But this is a question currently taking up way too much brain space these days: who will play me in the TV show based on my book?
I am officially doing the Hollywood two-step. It's a dance known to authors whose books have been optioned by the entertainment industry, comprised mostly of a straight-up leap of excitement, followed a shuffle when things get stalled out or even go south.
Aside from the obvious ego-boost (and what author doesn't need a steady stream of those?), there are several reasons a show-biz deal is the dream of most writers. It represents a potential springboard to other writing jobs in the land o' plenty known as Hollywood, and if the show actually gets MADE, it represents Serious Money.
Authors who have done the Hollywood two-step know not to get too excited when their work is optioned. Sure, everyone loves you now, but today's queen salmon could be next week's cold fish. Still, it's almost impossible not to get cranked up when you get the call: a network is interested in purchasing the rights!
That call came pretty quickly after the hardcover of Naked on the Page came out a year ago: TBS was interested in turning it into a series. When this welcome development happened, I had so many questions:
- Which anecdotes from my book will they use? The one where I have sex in a car? The one where I try Ecstasy for the first time? Doubtful on both counts.
- What age will I be? Will they keep me at 50 or chicken out and make me younger?
- What city will I live in?
- And most importantly, who will play me?
It took nine months to have my first meeting with the four fabulous women (producer, director, writer, and me) who now make up the development team for Naked on the Page, but what a meeting it was. We got completely tanked on wine, laughed for two hours, slagged men, and agreed that at least in principle, my character would remain this age. And when it came time to brainstorm actresses to play me, the wish list came fast and furious. Frances McDormand, Allison Janney, Dana Delaney, and on and on.
(One humbling moment was when someone did suggest Julianne Moore but was promptly shot down by the others. "Too pretty!" Whaaa...?)
That was in early October-and then Hollywood writers went on strike, effectively shoving the project to the FAR back burner. The Hollywood two-step slowed to a halt. It was a difficult winter, peppered by my anxious cruising of news stories about strike developments.
But in recent weeks, two great things happened: the writers' strike concluded. And my agent told me that TBS is re-upping my contract on our year anniversary without deducting three months for strike-something they were entitled by contract to do. You look for good signs, and these are two.
It's hard not to get excited about that.
–Jane Ganahl is author of Naked on the Page: the Misadventures of My Unmarried Midlife, founder of the Litquake festival and a journalist of twenty-five years.