Mean Gene
Mean Gene
Pittsburgh's most decorated poker blogger, which I admit is like being the best shortstop in Greenland

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My Articles

Presto, the Arlo, & the Hammer
An Online Code of Conduct
The Ethics of Ratholing
"The Professor, the Banker..."
"Ace on the River"

My Columns

Lose the Shades
If You Can't Say Something Nice
Whither the Kicker
The Lady is a Champ?
Covering the WSOP (or not)
Statistics, Luck, and Poker
Poker and New Orleans
Managing a Bankroll
How To Tell A Bad Beat Story
Telling Lies
The Power of Poker Tracker
Advanced Card-Handling

My Greatest Hits

5 Things To Do Before I Die
Cafeteria Nostalgia
Mean Gene's Dubious Dating Tips
Poker and Business?
There's No Such Thing As Luck?
Isabelle, Je t'adore
No Shirt No Shoes No Service
Well, The Food Was Good
Good Morning, Mr. Matusow!
The Weekend of our Discontent, I
The Weekend of our Discontent, II
Books That Left Their Mark
Ode to a Fish Sandwich
Bill Simmons Ain't the Poker Guy
The Sports Guy Still Ain't the Poker Guy
Again, The Media Tackles Poker
Five Years After 9/11
Hitting Pretty Girls in the Face
Sixth-Graders Suck

Fellow Poker Bloggers

Guinness and Poker
Cards Speak
Tao of Poker
Up for Poker
Boy Genius
Chris Halverson
Poker Grub
The Fat Guy
Todd Commish
Poker Works
Bill Rini
Bad Blood
Love and Casino War
Double As
Lion Tales
Paul Phillips
Daniel Negreanu
Poker Nerd
Poker Nation
Poker in Arrears
Human Head
Sound of a Suckout
Chicks With Chips
TP's Table Talk
Royal Poker
This is Not A Poker Blog
Chick and a Chair
Go Be Rude
Poker Cheapskate
Poker & Other Stuff
Seven Two
Musical Poker
WPBT Online
Isabelle Mercier
Cardschat Blog
Amy Calistri
BJ Nemeth
Annie's Blog

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    Friday, April 21, 2006

    There's No Business Like Show Business...Thank God

    Bill Simmons of ESPN has a two part conversation with Brian Koppelman and David Levien, the gentlemen who wrote Rounders. Simmons of course asked them the question all fans of that movie want to know--Why the hell doesn't Mike sleep with the slinky, scrumptious, yet surprisingly vulnerable Famke Janssen? It beggars belief. I can't believe Damon himself didn't walk off the set demanding a rewrite.

    And here's how they answered: "We plead guilty. Biggest mistake of the film, probably of our entire career...(i)t's not that we're monks, just idiots."

    About the only believable excuse, and I suppose none of us is without sin. They do mention that they'd imagined Petra as a more "regular-looking" girl. It's hard to imagine a less "regular-looking" girl than Ms. Janssen, so it's perhaps asking a bit much to process the fact that THIS is the woman playing that character and that strong men would swoon in her irregular presence. If you start fiddling with that character you'd probably end up re-writing the entire script to give her more screen time, and so maybe that wasn't a productive path to head down.

    It's an interesting read, though Simmons didn't ask a few questions I would've liked to ask. Actually, there's one in particular--pretty much every professional player who's written or spoken about Tilt hated it. HATED it. It made them look like cheats and crooks and scumballs. So, any backlash? And why, after making a name for yourself glorifying poker, would you make a show that rips it apart? Especially in as silly a way as Tilt does? And why would ESPN, which shows WSOP highlights 50 hours a week, do the same?

    Though it doesn't sound like Tilt came out quite as they hoped--"There is no way we can overstate this: We must have quit/threatened to quit the show five times over the nine matter what we said, we just couldn't believe the answers coming back at us."

    It must be very, very, very strange to come up with an idea for a TV show, or a movie, and get someone to agree to produce it, and then have to collaborate with dozens of other people who often have completely different ideas about how to present "your" idea. I'm sure change100 could go on and on and ON about this particular subject, but I've always been fascinated by the relationship writers have to the performing arts. Fascinated in the same way I'm fascinated by watching multiple-car pileups on the interstate.

    One of my writing professors at Penn State was a gentleman named Bob Downs, who had two of his novels turned into TV movies. He told us a story about walking onto the set and feeling an overwhelming sense of deja vu. He couldn't put his finger on it, until he realized that the set he was on was of the living room he'd described in his book. It wasn't quite as he imagined it, but it was close enough to give him the willies.

    He said that a friend of his enjoyed the perfect relationship with Hollywood--every single one of his novels had been optioned...and not one of them had been turned into a movie.

    There was a documentary about James Ellroy on HBO awhile back (It might've been titled My Dark Places, as much of it dealt with the same subject matter as the book of that title) and Ellroy tells a little story about the movie version of L.A. Confidential. He says that the success of that movie is something that he had absolutely nothing to do with, it was a once in a lifetime event. And he says, "Once in awhile some sweet little old lady will stop him and say, "Ohhhh, I just loved that movie. It was so wonderful. Tell me, is Kim Basinger nice?"

    And Ellroy says, "Yeah, she's OK."

    "Ohh, isn't that nice? Tell me, is Kevin Spacey gay?"

    And Ellroy says, "I don't know. But let me ask you something. Did you read the book? And invariably the little old lady says she didn't. and I say to her, 'Then what the fuck good are you to me?'"

    I taped that show, I really need to dig it out and watch it again. If you haven't read L.A. Confidential, good Lord, you should. And, good Lord, you should read My Dark Places. That reminds me that I haven't read White Jazz yet, nor The Black Dahlia. Add them to my summer reading list.

    Anyway, my point is that the path from the written word to celluloid can be a tortured one indeed. You don't often see great works of art created by committee and tested before focus groups. Too many cooks spoils the broth, the saying goes, and perhaps its a wonder that some movies and TV show are actually watchable.

    What got me thinking about this subject was a piece I read in today's Post-Gazette. There's going to be a movie made from Michael Chabon's novel The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, which is a favorite of mine. There's been talk of making a film from it for years, but as I read the article I found myself half-hoping it gets shelved. First of all, they might not actually shoot it in Pittsburgh. As the article says, the city itself is a character in the book, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. They might film instead in Canada or Louisiana. WTF? Louisiana? I've lived in Pittsburgh my entire life (less 4 years at Penn State) and I've never heard anyone say, "This reminds me of Cajun country." My friend Mark spent four years in Shreveport when he was in the Air Force--at no time did he say, "Basically it's Pittsburgh with crawfish".

    On top of that, the film version would take two major characters and merge them into one, which to my mind would ruin things right there. For further that-topping, Sienna Miller would play a character who was the girlfriend of one of the un-merged characters from the book. The problem is, the merged character would be gay, so I don't exactly see why she'd still be required.

    Another problem with making a film from this particular book is that Chabon is a spectacular writer, and so much of the magic in the book comes from his beautiful words. He didn't write the screenplay--it's going to be written and directed by the guy who did Dodgeball, which doesn't fill me with confidence. When asked about the changes made to his book, Chabon said, ""You're not just making a transcript of the novel with pictures, you're trying to reinvent the story so it works as a movie. ... I think it's going to be great."

    I think I might just grab the book off my shelf and read it again. get this widget Please visit Pokernews site for more poker news, poker strategy articles or poker rules.

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