My new novel, “Purgatory Gardens,” was published by Skyhorse in August. It is a darkly humorous story of a ménage a trois involving a Mafioso in Witness Protection, the former corrupt finance minister of an African country, and an aging actress living in genteel poverty in Palm Springs. All three think the others have money — at least enough to help them get through their rapidly declining years. In order to thin out the field, each of the men puts out a hit on the other, inadvertently hiring the same father-and-son demolition squad. Funny things happen. Think Elmore Leonard done by the Coen Brothers.
The independent feature film, “Sweet Talk,” an adaptation of my play of the same name, is still available on PPV platforms, such as Amazon, Vids and Hulu Plus. The movie was directed beautifully by Terri Hanauer. 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.
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 available. 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).