Hooray For Hollywood

For those of you who missed it on Facebook, I posted this announcement last week –

The film and TV rights to my novel BETTER OFF WITHOUT HIM have just been optioned to Robert Shaye and Michael Lynn’s production company, Unique Features. The negotiations for the rights were handled by Mary Alice Kier and Anna Cottle of Cine/Lit Representation on behalf of literary agent Lynn Seligman.

Now, if those names sound familiar – Bob Shaye and Michael Lynn – it’s because they were the guys at New Line about the time the Lord of the Rings movies came out. When New Line folded, they went off on their own. So we’re talking about some real heavy hitters here. This is a serious company, and I almost deleted the original email because I thought it was some sort of joke.

I got all sorts of emails in September, when Better Off Without Him was on the 100 Bestsellers List on Amazon. There was one from a very nice man in a Eastern European country who was interested in publishing my book in his native language, and could I just send him a copy of the manuscript so he could get started right away?

Ah, no.

I got a few notes from agents asking if I was represented. Haha – yes, I was, but thanks for asking.

Then I got something from a guy who wanted to know if the TV and film rights were available. Who was pulling my leg this time? I quickly Googled the company he said he was from, and found that they didn’t have their own website. Who doesn’t have their own website? I mean, if somebody like me had one, you’d think a hot-shot Hollywood company would have one, right? But I passed it along to my agent, saying ‘If this is real, would you handle it for me?’

Luckily, my agent is a lot smarter than I am, and found out that yes, you could be a hot-shot Hollywood company and not have your own website. Some phone calls were exchanged, she got her ‘West Coast’ person involved, and before I knew it, I was making a deal. Well, not me, exactly. In fact, I wasn’t involved at all, nor will I be going forward. My agent asked me if I minded turning over my book and my characters to a group of people who would then be able to do whatever they wanted to them. I would have no input, and if they wanted to change names, places, ages – whatever – I’d have to let them.

Well, I have to say that gave me pause for a second. But, really – what do I know about what makes a good movie or television series? Nothing. I know what I like, but so what? Most of my favorite TV series lasted barely a season – Firefly, anyone? – and as for movies, I’ll watch anything with James Stewart or Cary Grant in it. So there.

So I trusted my agent to make the best deal possible, and I’m sure she did. The coolest part of the contract? Where I get to go to the premiere. Would I have loved being involved in the screenwriting? Casting? Anything?? Sure. But that sort of thing only happens in books. Or if you’re EL James.

So – this is what has to happen. The people who have the option have to find someone else willing to take on the project. For TV, somebody has to make the pilot. Then, somebody else has to buy the pilot. Then the pilot has to be successful and actually aired. Then it has to be good enough to attract an audience and make some money. That’s a lot of ‘thens’.

For a movie? Well, there’s a reason why somebody coined the phrase “Development Hell’. Movies can – seriously – take years from first meeting to screen.

So I’m waiting. Any week now, I could get the call- there’s a sale – some hot actor is interested – a great director is thinking about it – anything is possible. That’s the coolest part of this whole experience.

Right now, today, anything is possible.