I just put an old new book up on Amazon. Le Jet Lag was written in 2007, following a trip to Cannes with a short film that Terri Hanauer made from a story I wrote. It struck me as the kind of place I’d want to write about: a meat market masquerading as a film festival, with thousands of severely jet lagged people wheeling and dealing in different languages. The book was sold by my agent to a boutique publisher in San Francisco, McAdam/Cage, who bought the book in 2008, avoided paying me my advance, had the book edited and put into galleys, before going Chapter 11. So I decided to put it up on Amazon, the home for all my books. Check out the link below.
My play, “Mutually Assured Destruction,” had a six-week run at The Odyssey theatre in West Los Angeles, closing at the end of August. An adaptation of a story I wrote some time ago, the play involves the complex and tenuous interplay of mutual blackmail that occurs when a man walks into a restaurant and encounters his friend’s wife having a compromising lunch with their accountant. Chaos ensues. Sort of. More like a deadly Cold War standoff. Hence, the title. I will post some reviews on the Reviews page of this site. Other reviews I have already burned.
My new novel, two years in the writing, came out in April. After seven books with two large publishers (Random House and Simon & Schuster), dissatisfied with the impersonality and pro forma efforts at marketing on the part of these enormous multinationals that put out over 500 books apiece each year, I decided to join the future and move to electronic distribution. Amazon has gone into the publishing business, offering a list of titles that they will feature on their Kindle, with a seventy percent author royalty — more than four times what the paper publishers offer. In addition to favorable revenue sharing, they market to targeted buyers, both through their records of purchasers of your previous books as well as to a readership presumably interested in your type of writing. E-publishing is not only green — avoiding the awful waste of paper produced by the dysfunctional business model in which publishers have to guess how many copies of a title to print, and then ship books all over the country, only to get them back as returns (gone today, here tomorrow) — but it is clearly the future of the industry. Already there are more novels sold electronically than in hardcover, and the total number of books being bought has increased. As much as I regret the loss of bookstores, the bottom line is that more people are reading more books, and that has to trump whatever nostalgia remains for bookstores. I also regret the loss of Automat restaurants, movie palaces, 32 cent-a-gallon gasoline and “The Phil Silvers Show.” Moreover, the economy of the process permits authors and publishers to offer work at one half to one third of the price of a paper book. Instead of paying twenty-six dollars and up for a hardcover of a new piece of fiction, you’ll find the same titles available at around ten dollars, and less. There are some authors offering new books for as low as $2.99 in the hope that they will make up in volume what they are giving up in cover price. Amazon allows you to set your own price — the lower the price, the higher the royalty percentage.
The new book, entitled “An American Family,” is an inter-generational novel about an immigrant Polish-Jewish family told through a lens of nearly forty years. Beginning on one of the two iconic dates of the last fifty years, November 22, 1963, and ending on the other, September 11th, 2001, the story follows five siblings born in the 1940′s on their journey through the social changes and turmoil of the latter part of the twentieth century. It is the story not only of a specific family, the Pearls, Jewish-Americans growing up on Long Island, but also the story of many immigrant families: Italian, African, Filipino, Vietnamese, etc. We are a nation of immigrants, and the story of assimilation is the story of our country.
You can buy the book for only $3.99, the price of a latte at Starbucks, by clicking the link: http://www.amazon.com/An-American-Family-ebook/dp/B007OWONSC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337714290&sr=8-1. You’ll need to have a Kindle or an iPad with free Kindle app. If you don’t have either at the moment, it’s time to step up and join the future. We will all be reading on one within five years.
I proud to announce that the independent feature film, “Sweet Talk,” an adaptation of my play of the same name, has finished post-production and will be submitted to film festivals and distributors. The movie was directed beautifully by Terri Hanauer, who, besides having the good sense to agree to marry me, had the vision to see that this piece of material would make a great film and was very helpful in contributing to my screenplay. We managed to put together a topnotch cast, top-lined by Natalie Zea (“Justified”), Jeffrey Vincent Parise (“CSI: New York”), and John Glover (“Smallville”), not to mention a Tony award for his performance in Terrence McNally’s “Love, Valour, Compassion!”. The film was shot, exquisitely, by Marco Fargnoli, and the production design was inventively provided by Celine Diano. Linda L. Miller produced, with Pietro Dioni, as line producer. Michael Flores handled the editing, and Dino Hermann and Emanuele Armone wrote the original score and did the Sound Editing.
Making a movie is a minor miracle, and we pulled it off — shooting SAG and WGA ultra low budget, with no completion bond. Which meant we were shooting without a net. I am grateful to the entire crew (check them out on IMDB) for working as hard and creatively as they did. The gods willing, the film will be in a theater somewhere on this planet in 2013.
I have decided to try my hand at non-fiction book and written a off beat memoir, entitled “Burning My Bridges: The Unauthorized Confessions of a Hollywood Writer.” It is a no-holds-barred account of my checkered career as a film and TV writer, naming names, places, dates and drugs. At this point in my life, there is no reason to protect the guilty or flatter the incompetent. I have no need to suck up to anyone, having, as the Teamsters are fond of saying, sufficient “Fuck-you Money” to get by. Though not quite as salacious as Julia Phillips’ “You’ll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again” — for one thing, I’ve never been sodomized by Don Simpson — the book is as off-the-wall and funny as I could make it. With any luck I will get sued by someone. You can’t buy that type of publicity. I am not sure yet whether I want to publish this conventionally or, like my new novel, electronically.
If you’re interested, just hit the link on this site for literary agents, Jane Dystel and Miriam Goderich, and make them an offer. The DVD of the film version of my first novel, “The Deal” (Random House, 1991), is available in the usual places: Amazon, Blockbuster and Netflicks — as is the Audio CD of “The Deal,” read by the film’s star, William H. Macy. Speaking of DVDs, Netflix is now listing the first season of “Beggars And Choosers” — the show I created in 1999, which ran for two years on Showtime — on their inventory. However, they indicate that it is not yet ready for release. Whatever this means, it is a positive step in the long battle to get this show out on DVD. Check in periodically and see if it’s ready to be shipped. You’ll enjoy them. Forty-four hours of satire on the television business, inspired by the late Brandon Tartikoff.
OTHER NEWS: As has been reported here earlier, “The Dreyfus Affair” is no longer under option and is available. A new script was written, and we are looking to put together the right package. Anyone with a few million in their pocket, please contact Ken Gross.
I think we must thank the critical and commercial success of “Brokeback Mountain,” and, more recently, “Milk,” for breaking through the conventional ignorance about audiences being reluctant to enter a movie theater if they think they may inadvertently see two guys kissing and about the notion that it is career suicide for a straight male actor to play a gay role. It appears to be just the opposite. Scripts were piling up on the desk of the agents representing the late Heath Ledger and are still piling up on the desks of those representing Jake Gyllenhal.
So thank you, Focus Films, James Schamus, Ang Lee, Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Sean Penn, Gus Van Sant and everyone else involved in “Brokeback” and “Milk” for having the courage to put your money behind a good story. Let’s hope that in the future, all good stories, gay, straight, or zigzag, will be considered material for films.??Other screenwriting developments: the noted producer Fred Roos (“Apocalypse Now,” “The Virgin Suicides,” “Lost in Translation,” among many others, has joined Phyllis Green in trying to get my adaptation of “Eleven Karens” to the screen. If you have a few million lying around or some brilliant casting suggestions (or if you are Gwynneth Paltrow and would like the opportunity to play all eleven Karens), please contact Fred at the offices of FM Productions (310 470-9212). My adaptation of “The Woody” remains with Andrew Lang Productions in New York waiting for casting and financing. We have a script that needs very minor tweaking in the face of recent political developments in this country. And, last but not least, “The Manhattan Beach Project,” nominally a sequel to “The Deal” remains available. Anybody interested, call Ken Gross (310 391-2999).