BookCon Kicks Off With…a Movie! (Starring Tina Fey and Jason Bateman) by Jami Kelmenson
When I think of reading books, I think of bay windows, beach lounge chairs and even the subway. I don’t generally think – golly gee, movie theaters! – but based on the kickoff event for BookCon this year, the silver screen is what you should be thinking of, especially when it’s adapted from a best -selling book.
Case in point – Jonathan Tropper’s best-selling book, This is Where I Leave You, the movie version of which starring Tina Fey and Jason Bateman, is scheduled to be released on September 12. Tina and Jason were on hand at BookCon tonight, along with the film’s director Shawn Levy and the author, who read passages from his book before we got a “sneak peek” of the same scenes in the movie.
How did the book passages compare to their celluloid interpretations? Were they faithful to the book or wholly invented or somewhere in between? The clips we saw were unapologetically a little of all three, especially when you throw in the comedic timing of Tina Fey and the regular guy impishness of Jason Bateman. And that was A-OK with both the director and the author. A movie adaption is simply a visual treatment of a story that gets its impetus from the written word, but it’s not “wrong” if it finds a new direction or interpretation as a result. In this case, said Levy, the movie provided a “comedic visual overlay” to the story, which is something you can’t get from a book. Hmm, I never looked at it this way. Does that mean I have to forgive Clint Eastwood’s version of The Bridges of Madison County for what it did to Robert James Waller’s book?
Director Shawn Levy relayed that in a fit of SNL-honed improvisation, Tina changed her lines during a table reading of one scene, and then wrote an email apologizing profusely for going “off-script.” He thought he was just lucky to get free editorial guidance from Tina Fey and changed the line to what she said.
Jason called Tina “a method actor” to great laughter. Whatever her “method,” it works, especially in this, a rare dramatic turn (oh c’mon how dramatic can it be with Tina Fey and Jason Bateman?) exploring the feelings that are brought up in family relationships following the death of the patriarch, which happens in the first scene – and on the first page of the book.
Also appearing in the movie is the unstoppable Jane Fonda as the matriarch of the family and Adam Driver, aka Lena Dunham’s boyfriend Adam in the HBO series Girls. (Yes, it’s quite possible that I will find a way to mention Lena Dunham in every blog post I write for BookCon this year) as the third sibling in this dysfunctional family du jour. Interesting director’s note on Adam Driver: he was scheduled to be filming Girls at the same time This is Where I Leave You was being filmed, and after staring to search for a new actor, they came to the conclusion that “there is no second choice” to Adam Driver as an actor, and so they worked around his schedule to make sure they got him. I’m sure Lena Dunham’s character Hannah would understand that; I know this roving reporter does.
And speaking of Lena Dunham…I better go to sleep now so I can be fresh as a daisy for my stalking, eh meeting, her tomorrow at the BEA Adult Book & Author Breakfast starting promptly at 8am ET! More from BookCon tomorrow so I guess, this is where I leave you…Maybe tomorrow I’ll actually talk about books!
Read more about Jami’s adventures at BookCon, including her brush with soon-to-be literary great Lena Dunham!
Jami Kelmenson is a freelance writer and blogger living and loving in New York City. She is currently seeking representation for her first novel, Crossing Paths. See more ShelfPleasure posts from Jami, including her roving reporter coverage at BookExpo America (BEA) 2013, and read of her ongoing tales of travel, life, love and the pursuit of getting published in NYC at her blog, www.jamikellywriter.tumblr.com.
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