Peter Hanson hit it right in his Associated Content article “Spider-Man, A-Team and Avatar Rehash Existing Hollywood Storytelling.” So did Erin Greenough in her Associated Content article “Is Hollywood Running Out of Ideas?”
Hollywood continues churning out the remake of the remake and the sequel to the sequel with assembly-line precision. Even the small community where I live was affected by this. A number of years ago, a remake of “Revenge of the Nerds” was going to shoot a scene on the small lake in our community. The project was scratched due to a lack of funds and, no doubt, a lack of interest.
The bottom line: Hollywood is a money-machine and the powers that be continue banking on familiarity and the assumption that the American viewing public will continue paying for it as long as Hollywood churns it out.
Rather than risk presenting Americans with original storylines and ideas, Hollywood gives us the remake, repackaged with fresh faces and higher salaries and selling it to what Hollywood considers a less-than-intelligent public as though we wouldn’t notice.
The basic premise of good vs. evil can be portrayed in a myriad of circumstances and settings. There is no shortage of creativity and ideas, just a shortage of nerve on the part of Hollywood to risk tapping into originality.
There are millions of creative and artistic people out there (myself included) with fresh, original ideas and characters. History, particularly women’s history, has gobs of untold stories. And there are books. Millions upon millions of published tomes which have great fodder for the big screen.
Here are a few books which I feel should be made into movies. I have also included the names of actors as I see them in the roles while I read these novels. (Jerry Bruckheimer, where are you?)
1.By the Light of the Moon (Bantam 2002)
Nanotechnology is a term that’s been used with increasing frequency on crime shows, so it isn’t unheard of. But lead characters Dylan O’Connor, an artist, and Jillian Jackson, a stand-up comedienne, have never heard it. That is, until an effusive made scientist shoots them full of nanocomputers with a horse needle. Strange things begin to happen like psychic phenomena and travel portals. Throw in Dylan’s high-functioning autistic brother, Shephard who also is affected by the nanocomputers, along with bad guys who are searching for the threesome, and you have, literally, a non-stop action thriller. In the hands of the right director and with Michael Weatherly and Sasha Alexander (or someone with similar chemistry) in the lead roles, you’d have moviegoers lining up at the theater.
2. One Door Away From Heaven (Bantam 2002)
Bioethics is a double-edge sword. There are those who practice bioethics ethically. Then there are those like Preston Maddoc who take bioethics to an evil extreme. This book has it all: the evil Dr. Doom (Maddoc), aliens, a deformed nine-year old intelligent smart-mouthed girl, a recovering alcoholic, kindly aunt and down-on-his-luck private investigator. Mickey (Eva Mendes) is living with her Aunt Gen (Rosemary Harris) when she meets Leilani Klonk, nine-year-old self-proclaimed mutant. According to Leilani, her stepfather Maddoc (Jon Favreau) believes that aliens will visit them upon Leilani’s tenth birthday and cure her of her deformities. But Maddoc doesn’t believe anything of the sort. He is plotting to kill Leilani, just as he did her older brother Luke. Maddoc is an extreme bioethicist: he believes that anyone who is not perfect and healthy doesn’t deserve to live. This is a thought-provoking novel and there’s a lot to be learned from it.
3-6. The four books of Judy Mercer
I’ve been reading the four novels written by Judy Mercer for years. Fast Forward, Double Take, Split Image and Blind Spot center around the protagonist Ariel Gold, a woman whose life changed completely one night leaving a restaurant in Los Angeles.
Turns out, Judy Mercer is as elusive and intriguing as her protagonist, Ariel Gold. Not a word heard from Mercer since the publication of Blind Spot in 2001. I’ve been wondering what happened and whether or not she was still alive. I had to become something of an amateur sleuth myself. I took names from the Acknowledgements page of her books and googled them. I found her literary agent and an attorney and contacted both of them. The literary agent (Joy Harris Literary Agency) never responded. The attorney, Mr. Alper, at least responded to my e-mail inquiry to inform me that, indeed, Judy Mercer is alive and well. I’d like to know why she no longer writes, but at least I got a response to my query.
3. Fast Forward(Pocket Books 1995) introduces us to a woman who awakens with amnesia. The reader gets to know Ariel even as Ariel gets to know herself. She finds she has led a lonely life, ending up a frumpy, anti-social producer of a news magazine. Along the way, she discovers she had a twin sister she’d never known about and also gets herself involved in a mystery surrounding that night at the Los Angeles restaurant. Ariel and her twin sister drove identical cars, one of which was blown up. It turns out it was her sister’s car, but Ariel’s car was the one targeted.
The best thing about this initial entry in the Ariel Gold series, is the changes the character undergoes throughout. By the end of the novel, she is no longer frumpy or anti-social. Even before she begins investigating the death of her sister, her looks have transformed her into looking very much like her sister, Jane. Ariel inherits a family in Jane’s, and Ariel’s, grandfather, B.F. Coulter.
4. Double Take(Atria 1997) continues where Fast Forward left off with Ariel on vacation in South Carolina. In the early morning hours on a quiet beach, Ariel encounters an old friend of her sister’s. When the friend turns up dead later from what seems to be a suicide, Ariel is immediately immersed in family history and intrigue.
5. Split Image (Atria 1998) again finds Ariel embroiled in intrigue when a man from her past, whom she doesn’t remember, runs into her. The man was accused of a crime and Ariel had stood by him throughout his trial. Turned out he was guilty after all.
6. Blind Spot(Pocket Books 2001) has a friend of Ariel’s blinded by eyedrops and Ariel is knee-deep in intrigue again to discover the reason.
7. Butterfly (Avon Books 1989)
Kathryn Harvey, also known as Barbara Wood
This book is a cult classic among women and their best friends. It’s a book that gets read then passed along. It is the ultimate woman’s revenge story.
Rachel Dwyer is a homely fourteen year old bookworm. She also finds out she had a twin sister who was sold at birth because her parents couldn’t afford to take care of both of them. When her alcoholic father attempts to sodomize her, Rachel’s mother sends her away.
Rachel meets Danny Mackay who woos the young girl and convinces her to work as a prostitute to support him. When Rachel comes up pregnant with Mackay’s child, he forces her to have an abortion which renders her incapable of ever having children. After Mackay kicks Rachel to the curb, her every move after that point is bent on vengeance.
She goes to Hollywood, where she and her twin sister were born, and changes her name to Beverly Highland. She builds an empire which includes a brothel of her own where women pay men and sometimes find themselves in the process.
It’s a very well-written novel and right up Hollywood’s alley, in a manner of speaking.
And there is my novel, of course. Once I complete it.
Here’s the thing though: the true power lies, not in Hollywood, but in the movie-going public. As long as people pay to see the remakes and the sequels, Hollywood will be only too happy to continue providing the same old, same old, rather than seek originality and creativity.
After all, Hollywood forbid the movie-watching public be given thought-provoking, stimulating originality and creativity. There’s already too much of that around.