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A skeptical writer's eye on Hollywood

Posted at 5:53 PM on June 5, 2006 by Euan Kerr

You might think that Melissa Bank would be excited that her novel "The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing" is being shot this month with Sarah Michelle Geller and Alec Baldwin in the lead roles.

But she isn't.

"I found out relatively early on that it is not a good thing for a writer to be involved in Hollywood, as almost every writer will tell you," she said when she was in the MPR studios today. She says while many Hollywood types talk of their interest and respect for writers and what they do, they don't really mean it.

"It's just such a strange industry," she says. "It's actually where all of the popular kids, I think, from high school all wound up. It's my own private theory."

"The Girls Guide" is a very funny series of interconnected short stories about a young woman adrift in the dating scene. Bank says she went to a whole lot of meetings, but hasn't been involved in the making of the film. To complicate matters she says Francis Ford Coppola bought the rights to two of the short stories, including the title story, but the movie which is being made is another project by different people.

"I don't know how this is going to work. It's a very strange circumstance. In most instances in life you have a very clear idea of what is in your control and what is not in your control, where you should act and where you shouldn't act," she says. "You know, if a friend is dying, you can can go and bring soup and read to that friend, but you can't stop the friend from dying. We are really pretty good at that in 2006, much better than in previous years. But this is one place where I had no idea what was actually in my control and what wasn't and how I should act and where I shouldn't. I had the sense that being involved in Hollywood was a toxic return to high school, and I wasn't going to do that."

Now the film is underway she has received many invitations to get involved and says she has been able to bring herself to do it. She got a screenplay but admits she hasn't been able to even open it.

"I can't imagine it would make me feel good. Those are my characters," she says. "I can't imagine that anyone could do it better." She says she has been amazed at hearing actors do marvelous things with her stories, but she says she can't imagine that happening with someone else rewriting her work.

"I will see the finished movie, and I'll hope that it is really good," she says slightly resigned.

"I mean that the worst thing that can happen is what happened to Scott Spencer who wrote "Endless Love." Now when I say that you probably think of the bad Brooke Shields movie. That's the worst thing that can happen. Because he actually wrote a brilliant book."

June 2006
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