This week: The women have it—Shopaholic takes Hollywood, whilechick lit's Nina Foxx gets her groove on. Also, will New York actor Mike Albo (with Virginia Heffernan) undermine his way to a film deal?
Sophie Kinsella, author of the bestselling Shopaholic series featuring Becky Bloomwood, takes a break from retail with The Undomestic Goddess, due from Dial this July. Soon after Valerie Hoskins Assoc. and CAA's Brian Siberell went out with the novel, featuring a fancy Cambridge graduate who becomes a housekeeper for a working-class family, the business affairs calls began rolling in. Warner Bros. stepped in with a mid-six-figure offer, but Universal quickly topped it and walked away the winner. Robert De Niro's Tribeca Films will produce.
Hollywood can't seem to get enough of the British Kinsella's lighter-than-air romantic comedies. Paramount pounced on her last novel, about interoffice backstabbing, Can You Keep a Secret? (also Dial), while the girly Shopaholic series is under option to—of all people—Jerry Bruckheimer (Black Hawk Down; Pearl Harbor). Maybe the big-screen Becky will blow up the mall?
Lions Gate's executives aren't the only ones thrilled with Diary of a Mad Black Woman's surprise haul ($40 million+ and counting). As studios increasingly shoot for the global-box-office grand slam, films aimed at niche (read: ethnic) U.S. audiences have become harder sells. Diary's surprise success should help APA's Steve Fisher prove to skeptical studio execs once and for all that an audience exists for urban, female-oriented films. Fisher will be going out this week with Nina Foxx's African-American chick lit novel, Just Short of Crazy, which Avon will publish in spring 2006. The novel, about an elegant woman who meets an eligible man but must get in touch with her inner "hood rat" to defeat his crude ex-wife, sounds like Terry McMillan meets B*A*P*S. The film of McMillan's Waiting to Exhale, of course, went on to gross $67 million.
Briefs...Mike Albo, the very funny performer/writer whose downtown one-man shows have attracted a fiercely devoted following among New York's trucker-hat crowd, may finally get his mainstream break with The Underminer: Or, the Best Friend Who Casually Destroys Your Life, co-written with journalist Virginia Heffernan. CAA's Richard Green is handling the film rights. Though published by Bloomsbury just last month, the book is already generating the kind of buzz among media types that publicity departments live for. (Full disclosure: Albo is a friend of mine... but a really talented one.) The title character—a better-looking, more successful "friend" who manages to make you feel like a colossal loser while simultaneously offering words of support—will be instantly recognizable to anyone who lives in L.A. or New York, or works in the entertainment industry.
Judging from the amount of press the book's getting (a lengthy New Yorker excerpt, a glowing-ish New York Times book review, a rave from Margaret Cho), the duo seems to have put a name to the one dysfunctional Gen-X relationship not yet given its due in the DSM-III (the psychiatrist's bible). The novel may not offer much in terms of plot, but the two roles are pure red meat for actors. All it needs is a little imagination. Charlie Kaufman, take note.