Since Alliance International got its start bringing quirky British series like Queer as Folk and Two Fat Ladiesto the small screen in the U.S., it is not surprising that founder Greg Zanfardino has turned to some nonmainstream small presses to find material for AI's film division, Alliance Filmworks.
"There are some [film production] companies that have relationships with large publishing houses. I would love nothing more than to do something like that with smaller presses," Zanfardino told PW. He's halfway there. Two of the four projects AI has in development are connected with small houses—Moment Point Press and Amber-Allen Publishing for The Seth Material (working title), and Wild Cat Publishing, which reissued cofounder Patricia Nell Warren's 1974 gay-themed novel, The Front Runner.
The Seth Material, which will be released under the title Speaking of Jane Roberts next year, is based on the life of psychic Jane Roberts (1929—1984), who channeled an entity called Seth and in the process helped usher in the New Age category. Her books have had worldwide sales of more than 7.5 million copies and influenced many of today's mind/body/spirit gurus. Marianne Williamson calls Seth "one of my first metaphysical teachers."
"We're the first people to get an agreement from the Jane Roberts estate and her husband, Rob Butts," said Zanfardino. "I feel I'm one of the luckiest men in the world." He plans to combine the story of Roberts's life growing up in the '30s and '40s in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and her sessions with Seth, starting with her very first one with a Ouija board. In order to get a variety of perspectives, Zanfardino has signed Butts, as well as Roberts's friends and colleagues Susan Watkins, Rick Stack and Richard Kendall, as consultants.
In the meantime, Moment Point Press in Needham, Mass., is repackaging its Roberts and Watkins titles, including the latter's Speaking of Jane Roberts. Earlier this summer it released a 25th-anniversary edition of Watkins's two-book Conversations with Seth. The company, which has published 24 books to date, all in the area of "conscious creation," noticed a bump in sales for the works of quantum physicist Fred Alan Wolf because of the 2004 New Age cult film What the (Bleep) Do We Know? in which he appeared. The film also repopularized Roberts's expression "you make your own reality" and gave a lift to her book sales as well.
Roberts's best-known works—Seth Speaks, The Nature of Personal Realityand The Magical Approach—have long been cornerstones of another small press's list—Amber-Allen of San Rafael, Calif. According to COO Karen Kreiger, they have no tie-in plans, but expect a boost in sales.
The Front Runner, a love story about an ex-Marine track coach and the young man he trains for the Olympics, is not as far along in development. "When I first read it,I wanted to make it into a film," Zanfardino said. The book, which has sold 10 million copies to date and was once optioned by Paul Newman, was a New York Timesbestseller when first published by Morrow in 1974. Despite the success of Brokeback Mountain, Zanfardino has found it slow going to raise money, but he remains optimistic. Wild Cat Press, however, is ready to go with a repackaged Front Runner when the movie gets released.