Saturday, December 16, 2006

"A Confederacy of Dunces," a film?

As a native New Orleanian, early fan of John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, and admirer of David Gordon Green's films, I was very interested to read Peter Hyman's article in Slate about efforts to bring the story to the big screen. The bottom line: don't buy a ticket just yet.

There is much of interest in Hyman's reporting--for devotees of the book as well as those of us who marvel at the way the movie business works (or doesn't)--so click here to read the article.

One reason the film may never get made:
Most curiously, there is the matter of what many, including Steven Soderbergh, believe to be a "curse" that surrounds the book. In addition to the tragic suicide of Toole, a series of misfortunes have affected efforts to make the film. In 1982, John Belushi became the first actor cast in the role of Ignatius (Richard Pryor was also attached to this version, in the role of the visionary vagrant Burma Jones). Belushi was an inspired choice, possessing both the artistic range and the physical largesse to nail the character. All the lights seemed to be turning green for Kramer, who was then only 23 years old. But a day or so before Belushi was supposed to meet with executives at Universal to finalize his involvement, he died of a drug overdose at the Chateau Marmont. Five months later, the woman who led the Louisiana State Film Commission was murdered by her husband, which brought the efforts to shoot the film in New Orleans—and the production itself—to a halt. Other deaths tangentially linked to the project include those of actors John Candy and Chris Farley, both of whom were considered for the lead role before they died. And, for those so predisposed, the recent devastation that Hurricane Katrina wrought on New Orleans provides further amplification.
Unlike the case with this book, I'm not confident I could do a good job of adapting this great comedic novel for the screen.

--Marshal Zeringue