aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

The movie deal that wasn't

Yesterday morning, NPR ran a piece several times called "Playwright David Rabe leaves the stage behind." The story kind of backed into his writing novels. Instead of mostly talking about his novels, it focused on how he hadn't had a play on the New York stage (he's known for Hurly Burly, Streamers, etc.) for five years. (Three of those plays have been made into movies.) Sean Penn and Harvey Keitel were quoted, wishing that Rabe only, only had a new play. What, the piece wondered, had he been doing for the past five years?

I know a little part of the answer. Four years ago, I opened up an email and learned he was working on treatment for the screenplay of my book, Learning to Fly.

He had previously written a screenplay for another novelist's book. A little thing called The Firm.

Weed Road Pictures (Starsky & Hutch, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) was attached to provide production.

And someone was talking to Natalie Portman about starring!

Wow! Was that an exciting day! Visions of my new life, one where I didn't juggle working full-time, writing a mystery a year, and parenting, danced in my head.

You remember watching the movie Learning to Fly, don't you? Oh, you don't? Even before David Rabe worked on it, it had gone to Buena Vista, who wanted to see a different take. Different screenwriters were attached and unattached. And probably anyone can mention anything they want to Natalie Portman. Along the way, there was one constant, a guy who really believed in and understood Learning to Fly even better than my editor. But after four or five years, even he moved on.

Along the way, I learned something from my friend Karen Karbo, who was married to a movie guy for a while. She told me, "In Hollywood, yes means maybe and maybe means no."

But all is not lost. Stay tuned!

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Tags: ltf the movie part i

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