So what’s it like when a literary agent represents a book that becomes a major movie?
Ummm, well…I have a poster. And, to be fair, although movie money for book people isn’t what movie money is for movie people, I’ve got no complaints. But that money came and went a long time ago–Jack Black isn’t giving my kids guitar lessons, Owen Wilson hasn’t asked me out to dinner, and Steve Martin doesn’t respond to my tweets no matter how many direct messages I send him (please, Steve, mention the BOOK by MARK OBMASCIK as well as the movie at your next banjo concert!)
Around the time we sealed the deal for movie rights I knew enough about fame’s 15 minutes to understand that I might never again be as welcome in Hollywood. We had also recently sold the TV rights to Bruce Cameron’s 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter–thanks to the brilliant Howie Sanders at UTA. (Book agents like me rarely sell books directly to Hollywood; they hire thick-skinned subagents. Plus I had finally lost my second-baby-weight and anticipated that skinny me was ALSO as fleeting as that fame. It was.) So I got myself out to Hollywood to take meetings–which I cannot tell a lie was just about the most fun part I’ve ever played in my occasionally recurring role as a somebody. I met with Spielberg’s right hand & saw the dog in his office, met with some Disney producers and attended a hot party or two. I rented a convertible. I had fizzy water brought to me.
It’s a heady collision of worlds–certainly when Dustin Hoffman and Steve Martin were both candidates for one of the roles in The Big Year, and I was on the phone offering my opinion on the matter, I was tickled. Knowing, of course, that it was all talk, and that my opinion mattered as much on that phone call as it did at the supermarket that night.
The truth is there are insiders and there are insiders, and I’m a book person, not a movie person. What this means: if the movie makes more people read the book, that makes me happy. If the movie means more people want to read my client’s next book–now we’re really talking.
I love my role of inside-outsider. I laugh knowingly watching Entourage, without really knowing. I’m privy now and then to fun facts without truly being invested, understanding how uncertain and unfair that world really is, able to say “Hey, that’s my movie!’– whatever that means as an agent–without my livelihood or reputation dependent on how many stars it gets. And the poster’s really cool.