The Casting Broad
The Casting Broad


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Casting Thrillers

Hollywood so often puts the wrong people in the wrong roles. But the Casting Broad is happy to help them get it right.

Clint Eastwood is a member of my book club, he just doesn't know it or show up. But we read the same novels, and then he makes movies out of them, and I make treats.

I like to think that if Clint and I had discussed it as a group, his adaptation of Michael Connelly's excellent thriller Blood Work might not have been so disappointingly functional, like those plop-and-bake Pillsbury sugar cookies.

Happily, it seems like he's catering for Oscar with Mystic River, the Sean Penn/Tim Robbins/Kevin Bacon triple dip based on Dennis Lehane's fine bestseller.

Casting Mysteries

I've been pretty busy myself, casting the movie versions of a few more mysteries on my reading list, using only emeritus book club members, and eating their brownies by proxy.

Dennis Lehane is hot property now, so it won't be long before some bigwig options his series following Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, a pair of Boston private investigators/childhood friends/sometime lovers. The stories are very grim and dark, but Lehane makes them palatable with sharp dialogue and sympathetically flawed characters.

It's a project That Paul and Chris Weitz should direct; they did a great job translating the difficult tone of Nick Hornby to the screen with About A Boy, and it's time to prove they can do drama and suspense as well as they do comedy and whatever you call American Pie.

Matt Damon would make a good Patrick: he's got Boston down pat, and the character is a loveable smart aleck, a grown-up Will Hunting, minus the math, plus a gun. The role would still give Damon new challenges, since he's never done the detective thing or had a complex onscreen romance where the woman played an equally meaty role.

Angie, the beautiful girl who should have left for bigger things but didn't, is smart and tough without being Superwoman or a vixen with perfect hair; it's an ideal breakout role for Christina Applegate, who has had the acting chops for years. She carried the underrated Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead more than a decade ago, and she stole The Sweetest Thing from professional scene-stealer Cameron Diaz by confidently underplaying the witty best friend part.

Applegate is hovering under the radar much like Jennifer Connelly did before A Beautiful Mind, and she's just as deserving of major kudos.

Can't forget to cast the requisite against-type villain for a movie like this, but don't you dare say Robin Williams again. Go with Nathan Lane, who has the presence, range, and physique for a convincing bad guy turn; he's usually one raised eyebrow away from scary as it is.

Kick-ass Heroines

Two other fictional crime-solvers are overdue for celluloid, and they'd play right in to the current desperation for kick-ass heroines with sequel potential and more going on than popcorn and cheese.

After all, Hollywood folks were surprised this summer that movies like Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life lacked complexity or truthful storytelling, forgetting their screenplays were adapted from an Aaron Spelling TV show, a video game, and Jennifer Lopez's exercise outfits.

Let's at least look at the hardcovers on sale at Borders, people. You'll find two popular series, Janet Evanovich's numbers (One For the Money, Two for the Dough, etc) and Sue Grafton's alphabet (A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, etc), with characters that are much more fascinating than the kindergarten titles of their books might lead you to believe.

Evanovich's Stephanie Plum is a wise-cracking Jersey girl, a makeup and shoe junkie with a pet hamster, and an awkward but lucky bounty hunter who hates guns and spends too much time at her parents' house out of guilt and a weakness for mom's cooking.

A lot of emphasis is also placed on the two men in her romantic life: one's a cop and former neighborhood bad boy with whom she has a frustrating dating history, the other her huge, cool, and mysterious bounty-hunter mentor. Jennifer Aniston would have a field day in her stilettos, caught in a love triangle with, say, Patrick Dempsey and Vin Diesel.

Grafton's books certainly have their thrilling scenes, but their mood lends itself better to emotional payoffs and low key insights on the human condition. Steven Soderbergh might have made this movie before he got all Solaris.

The main character, Kinsey Millhone, is a private detective, a brooding sarcastic loner and a great liar, and the little (old) black dress she stuffs in her purse for emergencies is as girly as she gets. So, could somebody write a great script and hand it to the incredible Maura Tierney of ER?

Hey, it's hard enough to run a book group and use actors like chess pieces who won't take my calls; I don't have to do the details.

I'm the Oprah and the Uma, if you will.

One Safety Tip:

Never put James Spader and Jeff Goldblum in the same movie. I'm not sure why, just please don't do it.

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