November 26, 2018

"If our defense rests on my ability to explain what a play is without sounding condescending, we’re completely screwed."

Said Aaron Sorkin, as quoted by Aaron Sorkin, writing about the litigation that almost thwarted his stage adaptation of "To Kill a Mockingbird" (The Vulture).
I thanked [Tonja Carter, the executor of Harper Lee’s estate]... and told her how honored I was to be working on the material. I told her she was going to be part of a thrilling night in the theater. Then I told her that drama has rules, no less strict than the rules of music — 4/4 time requires four beats to a measure, the key of C-major prohibits sharps and flats, and a piece of music has to end on the tonic or the dominant. “The rules of drama,” I said, “were written down by Aristotle in the Poetics in 350 BC. These rules are four centuries older than Christianity. A protagonist— ” Yeah, we got nowhere.

Tonja Carter said to [the producer Scott Rudin] and me, “I think you both hate To Kill a Mockingbird” (which would explain the three years we spent working on it), and we faced the scary possibility that we weren’t going to be able to do the play. It’s not that we thought we were going to lose the case — the lawyers were confident we would win — it’s that Scott and his investors couldn’t go into a production under a cloud of litigation, and with every passing day we were getting closer to losing our theater to another show. Was it possible that a person could win a lawsuit just by filing it?
A faux naive question!

At one point Sorkin exclaims, “The play can’t be written by a team of lawyers." And though Sorkin kind of "wished we’d gone to court so I could hear a federal judge decide what imaginary people would and wouldn’t do," there wasn't money-wasting time for that, and the case was settled:
... I finally said, “If Tom Robinson and Calpurnia are taken off the table as issues, I’ll cut ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Goddamit,’ Atticus won’t have a rifle in his closet, and he won’t drink a glass of whiskey after the trial.”

89 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

I would like to stage a play using one of Sorkin's "West Wing" scripts where it is obvious that President Bartlet is a charismatic sex offender.

And a Communist.

I'd be curious to see which he complains more about.

I am lLaslo.

rhhardin said...

Truth is written by Human Resources.

tim maguire said...

Laslo Spatula said...
I would like to stage a play using one of Sorkin's "West Wing" scripts where it is obvious that President Bartlet is a charismatic sex offender.

And a Communist.


As opposed to the preening gasbag we all knew and loved? How dare you, sir!

Sydney said...

Was it possible that a person could win a lawsuit just by filing it?

Yes.

tim maguire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim maguire said...

What could I do but make it all less than it was? Why invite the comparison between a legend and … not a legend? Why put on a nightly PowerPoint presentation on the difference between Harper Lee’s skills and my own?

Aaron Sorkin is obviously not an Althouse reader: There is great sentimentality about this book in the older generation...I hold the informed opinion that it is not a very good book.

Rick Turley said...

#BelieveAllWomenButNotThatOneEither

Paddy O said...

"I think you both hate To Kill a Mockingbird” (which would explain the three years we spent working on it)"

I've seen enough movie and TV adaptations to know that just because someone works on a play doesn't mean they like the original material. Especially in our era where there's a driving need to anti-Trump literature. There's also the very odd to me aesthetic where writers/directors feel a need to make a famous book their own, as if they have a better vision of the text than the author. Movies and plays can't do an exact transfer, but far too many adaptations entirely change characters, plots, goals.

In academia, there's quite a lot of people who hate the subjects they spend their life working on. Theology/religion is filled with people who don't like the way the subjects have been, so want to change it. They hate God and want to prove it. English lit departments are filled with people who despise English literature and want to change the whole field.

All of this is me believing Tonja Carter here.

Fernandistein said...

After trying to read the article to find out why there's a lawsuit - is it because Sorkin's writing is boring?

Bay Area Guy said...

Althouse needs a "Left-eating-its-own" tag for this.

And, Thank You, Laslo for the laugh! You are a politico-comedic treasure in you're own right!

William said...

They should shorten the copyright restrictions. After a certain point in time, the characters in a book belong more to the generations that love them than to the writer. Gatsby, Scarlett O'Hara, Holden Caulfield belong to the readers, not to their creators.......It was an interesting article. Sorokin points to the downside of dealing with beloved characters from a beloved novel. He signed an informed consent and knew the risks of the operation. Myself, I don't see why he'd expend so much effort in a project that was bound to invite invidious comparisons. Maybe he'd be better served by doing a biopic of Harvey Weinstein. Give him the Steve Jobs treatment.

prairie wind said...

Was there a struggle like this when someone wanted to stage The Odd Couple with women/gays/blacks?

I am one of the old folks who have great sentimentality about TKAM. I read the earlier Althouse post where you say it isn't a very good book. Good points, great questions. To me, it isn't about race relations or about rape. The book is all about moral courage, standing up when the community says "sit down". Doing what's right because it's right.

I'm glad the estate is protective of the book, myself. I would be interested in a version that tackles the questions Althouse asked but I'm fine if the estate doesn't want a play that makes Atticus less than Atticus. No gun?? WTH?

rcocean said...

Ah, you need to cut out "Jesus Christ" "Goddamn" and "a rifle in the closet"

No, that would ruin the play.

LOL!

PM said...

Sorkin's stage adaptation of "Moby Dick" has Ahab seeking the black whale to apologize.

rcocean said...

At least Atticus won't be smoking a MJ cigarette or have a sassy, funny, friend from NYC.

Dave Begley said...

'They should shorten the copyright restrictions."

That will never happen as long as Disney is in business.

MikeR said...

To kill To Kill a Mockingbird

chillblaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
prairie wind said...

Okay, I read the article this time.

To Kill a Mockingbird is about the nature of decency. What it means to be a person. In the novel, Atticus has the answers. In the play, he would struggle with the questions. There was speculation outside my circle of collaborators that I would incorporate Go Set a Watchman into the play. I’ve never read Go Set a Watchman, specifically so I could truthfully say I’ve never read Go Set a Watchman.

"The nature of decency" sounds like a bucket of warm spit. I like my take better.

A woman named Tonja Carter took over as executor of Lee’s estate [after Lee's death]. Lee’s contract with Scott — which was now the estate’s — also stated that I would not “alter its characters” or “depart in any manner from the spirit of the novel.” Carter filed a suit in federal court in Alabama claiming I’d done both....

As for altering characters, Carter’s demand letter included a list of things these fictional characters would never do. “Atticus would never take the Lord’s name in vain,” “Atticus would never drink alcohol,” and “Atticus would never have a rifle in the house,” but that was the least troubling of our troubles. Here’s an example of an exchange that takes place during an argument that Atticus and Calpurnia return to throughout the play:

Calpurnia: Jem was stickin’ up for you and maybe a little bit me and you made him say he was sorry.

Atticus: I believe in being respectful.

Calpurnia: No matter who you’re disrespecting by doin’ it.

“A typical black maid in the South at this time would never talk to their employer this way,” Carter said.

A coupla thoughts:

There’s no such thing as a typical black maid.

Plays aren’t written about typical people doing typical things.


Sorry to quote so much of it but this is where I decided that Sorkin was right.

Atticus HAS a gun because he shoots the rabid dog, and that's where the children begin to understand Atticus--an important plot point. Carter's complaints about alcohol and language are petty.

Sorkin putting smart (not smartass) words in Calpurnia's mouth doesn't alter Cal's character one bit. Atticus has great respect for her in the book, and she would have felt free to explain to him that he was wrong. Anyone who has read the book knows that Cal is not a typical maid (of any color).

Good article, good discussion here in the two Althouse posts. I need to reread the book one of these days...except being online makes me less likely to pick up a book. Surely Althouse has more than one post on that topic.

MikeR said...

"Sorry to quote so much of it but this is where I decided that Sorkin was right.
Atticus HAS a gun because he shoots the rabid dog, and that's where the children begin to understand Atticus--an important plot point. Carter's complaints about alcohol and language are petty."
Best not to accept one side's version of the story. He probably had her use the N-word.

SeanF said...

Paddy O: I've seen enough movie and TV adaptations to know that just because someone works on a play doesn't mean they like the original material.

Yep. Just ask Paul Verhoeven what he thinks of the novel "Starship Troopers".

RobinGoodfellow said...

Atticus HAS a gun because he shoots the rabid dog, and that's where the children begin to understand Atticus--an important plot point. Carter's complaints about alcohol and language are petty.

Atticus didn’t get the Kragge rifle from his own house. The sheriff gave it to him.

Dave Begley said...

"the specter that being simultaneously the agent, lawyer, and literary executor for Harper Lee wasn’t legal."

Duh! Kind of like being a witness in a case and supervising the Mueller witch hunt at the same time.

That person was just running the meter as a lawyer because that paid better than the royalties for the play.

The disqualification motion should have been heard first.

And I've never heard of a federal judge personally mediating a case.

prairie wind said...

Atticus didn’t get the Kragge rifle from his own house. The sheriff gave it to him.

Thanks. I really do need to reread the book.

gahrie said...

If Sorkin didn't like the play as originally written, he should have written his own.

prairie wind said...

Best not to accept one side's version of the story. He probably had her use the N-word.

The Cal I know would never use that word but if Sorkin wants her to use it, at least he's following the rules that allow black people to use that word with impunity.

Mountain Maven said...

Annals of leftist autophagy.

Jupiter said...

prairie wind said...

"I am one of the old folks who have great sentimentality about TKAM. I read the earlier Althouse post where you say it isn't a very good book. Good points, great questions. To me, it isn't about race relations or about rape."

Exactly. It's a coming-of-age story about a young white girl in the South who deeply admires her father. That's why the Commies all hate it.

rehajm said...

At least Sorkin recycles

I'll pass on Sorkin and wait for To Kill a Mockingbird On Ice.

Kevin said...

To Kill a Mockingbird is about the nature of decency. What it means to be a person. In the novel, Atticus has the answers. In the play, he would struggle with the questions.

Then you change the nature of the character. There is a world of difference between people who are clear about what's right and wrong and do the right thing regardless of the personal consequences, and those who perform great feats of moral calculus before coming to a decision they're not even sure in hindsight is correct.

If he wants to write about that guy, then Sorkin has the name recognition to write his own play about that guy.

Bob said...

Atticus didn’t get the Kragge rifle from his own house. The sheriff gave it to him.

Thanks. I really do need to reread the book.


Mostly beside the point. The point was, Atticus was and always had been known as a crack shot. He hadn't shot in years, but the sheriff didn't trust his own ability to dispatch the rabid dog cleanly. That's why he handed the rifle to Atticus, who quickly took care of the job.

That Atticus could shoot well and had shot as a youngster automatically makes him anathema to the "smartest people in the world".

H L Mencken would have admired Atticus Finch. He epitomized competence in all subjects from A to Z, including S for Shooting.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Ray Bradbury dealt with this long ago. See his preface to the anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451, with his response to parties wishing to stage it, with "just a few alterations".
Tl;dr: Don't like what I wrote? Then write your own.

Mike Sylwester said...

I write a blog about the movie Dirty Dancing.

Many people have seen this movie repeatedly -- a dozen or more times. The more times they watch it, the more they are comforted by their familiarity with the repeated sameness. I discussed this "comfort" in an article titled 1987-2017, where I quoted a long passage from an article, titled "On Repeat: Why People Watch Movies and Shows Over and Over", written by Derek Thompson. He lists 1) The Simple Reason, 2) The Nostalgic Reason, 3) The Therapeutic Reason and 4) The Existential Reason.

======

In April 2017, ABC broadcast a Dirty Dancing remake that was condemned by practically everyone -- although I myself liked it. The character Baby was played by a pudgy actress, and the character Johnny was played by a scuzzball actor.

The movie also has been made into a stage musical. This adaptation has been tolerated much more by the public than the television remake was.

=======

Despite copyright restrictions, some artistic works have become so familiar that they have been absorbed into the culture. Two examples are Dirty Dancing and To Kill a Mockingbird.

A very large portion of our population was assigned by our schools to read To Kill a Mockingbird. This massive reading assignment made Harper Lee and her estate very rich. No matter what their copyright says, our culture should be allowed to adapt the book rather freely. That's a just result of the massive reading assignments that compelled so many schools and students spend money and time to read and analyze the book.

The people who have the Mockingbird copyright should, on their own initiative, let it go. They should not be bothering and impeding, for example, efforts to present the story as a stage musical.

=====

I have argued that screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein never got rich from Dirty Dancing. I think that she had to sell all her rights for a flat screenwriter's fee in order to get her movie made. The story has made hundreds of millions of dollars, but Bergstein gets only a little money for consulting and personal appearances. She has no control over adaptations of her story. That's my educated speculation.

======

On YouTube there are many home-made adaptations of Dirty Dancing, some of which are delightful.

Robin Eatmon said...

I loved the movie. It came out the same year as Lawrence of Arabia. I love both movies and thought about them and the impacts they both made on my life for years after. I loved TKAM because it was a about a little girl (near my age at the time the movie was released) and the world in which she lived. The theme music can still bring a tear to my eye and I'm not sure why. Sweet and Sad at the same time.

Jon Burack said...

I agree with Ray Bradbury - and Fred. I am astounded at Sorkin's arrogant assumption that current political fashions should take precedence over the story's historical context. For example, as for the supposedly unacceptable silence of the black characters, it does not appear to occur to Sorkin that precisely that silence was a powerful part of the meaning of the story within its historical context. Perhaps some stories can be ripped from their times and adapted to other purposes. Not this one. For all his dressed up artsy talk, Sorkin's disrespect for this novel is absolutely equivalent to and consistent with Shorewood's insane desire to whitewash it's essential language.

Unknown said...

There is always something new we must learn

From revivised history

D 2 said...

"Happily ever after" fails & we've been jaded by anti-fairy tales
Lawyers will sue over all details, saying all stories are just lies.

But I know a place where we can go......

Temujin said...

Sorkin is unquestionably a brilliant screenwriter who apparently thinks of himself more a playwright. But I have always found his story telling preachy, with dialog that seems to have to include people walking around quickly, while sputtering out rapid one-liners in an orchestrated bip-bip sort of banter that is not real. People don't talk like his dialogue is written. Still- I've enjoyed a few of his shows, others, I could not watch.

I get him trying to find ways to write this that fits his view of playwriting. I don't get changing it because 'the times, they are a-changing'. That's BS. This book is a treasure exactly because it shows a slice of time, in a place and society that is very mysterious to many in its day, and to most all today. And though you may want to say nothing has changed, in reality, that was a very different place. Harper Lee wrote it as she saw it. It's her story. It's important to keep to the nuances SHE wrote in there. I'd almost be fearful of sitting through Jeff Daniels becoming the smug Atticus, walking briskly, spouting out little brilliant! quips, while others walk around him just as quickly finishing up each others lines. But I think the play will be what people want to see out of it. And there is no doubt in my mind that a society that fainted over hearing Obama speak, and was willing to spend $1000+ to see Hamilton, will surely love this play- especially if it does change the character of Atticus.

johnhenry100 said...

"they called me crazy when I wanted to remake Moby Dick from the whale's point of view!"

Legendary movie producer Stanley Motss

John Henry

Jupiter said...

Well, I went and read the article, and I learned 3 things;

1 - Aaron Sorkin writes very readable copy.
2 - Aaron Sorkin is willing to say almost anything to achieve that readability.
3 - Aaron Sorkin is an unredeemed asshole.

Every thrill a cheap thrill.

tim maguire said...

Temujin said...
Sorkin is unquestionably a brilliant screenwriter who apparently thinks of himself more a playwright. But I have always found his story telling preachy, with dialog that seems to have to include people walking around quickly, while sputtering out rapid one-liners in an orchestrated bip-bip sort of banter that is not real


30 Rock has a scene where the main character--Liz Lemon--runs into Aaron Sorkin at a job interview. They get to talking and walking just as you describe. And at the end of the scene, Liz finds that they've walked in a circle. They'd gotten nowhere.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

I bet Sorkin couldn't explain what a fart is without sounding condescending.

J. Farmer said...

My favorite Sorkin work is the almost completely forgotten early 90s thriller Malice starring Bill Pullman, Nicole Kidman, and Alec Baldwin.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

As opposed to the preening gasbag we all knew and loved? How dare you, sir!

Remember the episode when Bartlett sneaks off in China to personally negotiate with the Chinese Premier? That's Sorkin's idea of how the international politics should work. Get a sooper-genius elected president so that he can use his superior intellect to bend space and time so the Chinese Premier (also a sooper-genius, I'm sure) and the prez can work out the two country's issues in a genial one-on-one negotiation.

robother said...

The executor is more sophisticated in the rules of drama than Sorkin. She knows her Chekov:
"One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn't going to go off."

She knew that that letting Sorkin keep that rifle meant by Opening night, Atticus in the last act would be up in the courthouse bell tower....

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Sorkinisms

prairie wind said...

Ron Winkleheimer...that's a great find!

What will we hear in a Sorkin TKAM?

Scout: Hey, Boo.
Boo Radley: The only thing you had to do to make me happy is to come home at the end of the day.

Rabel said...

"It sells more than a million copies a year, and it continues to be taught in every school district where it hasn’t been banned for making Jim Crow laws look bad."

If anyone can come up with a current example of the novel being banned for that reason I'd like to see it.

There are plenty of examples of banning the novel for a different reason. A more Althousian reason.

Rory said...

William said: "They should shorten the copyright restrictions. After a certain point in time, the characters in a book belong more to the generations that love them than to the writer."

More important, we could see WKRP without the music cuts.

I Callahan said...

J Farmer - not completely forgotten by me anyway. I always thought it was a helluva story.

tommyesq said...

"And I've never heard of a federal judge personally mediating a case." Actually, at least in some states, Federal Magistrate Judges offer free mediation services and do quite a good job of it (of course, only in cases that are not actually before them - those mediations get assigned to a different Magistrate).

tim maguire said...

Ron Winkleheimer said...Sorkinisms

Thanks, that was funny. I wonder if Sorkin even knows how many lines he reuses.

robother said...

Sounds like a tough negotiation with a gal who doesn't play by Sorkin's rules. Perhaps fodder for the next Sorkin movie, "I, Tonja."

narciso said...

Well the social network conveyed Zuckerberg's essential nature, Charlie Wilson's war was dissapointing

JPS said...

tim maguire,

"I wonder if Sorkin even knows how many lines he reuses."

We can say this for him: He is never, ever sick at sea.

Darkisland said...

I think it is bullshit to say that the book is loved by many people and has a special place in the culture and therefore the copyright should be lifted.

Copy right law, and any other property rights should never depend on how people "feel" about a certain work.

I would be happy with having copyright being granted in perpetuity forever but only on the condition that it be periodically (5-10 years? 20?) renewed. Make the holder pay a fee of perhaps $20 ($100?) to renew it.

If not renewed, the work immediately goes into the public domain. That would let owners keep control of valuable assets.

Equally important, it would allow abandoned works to be republished. Right now we have millions of books for which nobody knows who owns the copyright and there is no way to find out. A lot of these books deserve to be in print. Technology now allows this even for small sales volumes.

But it can't be done legally without the copyright owner's permission and it can cost thousand$ to try to track down the owner with no guarantee of success.

But take away a valuable copyright just because a lot of people like the book?

How about this, let's put Graceland into the public domain because a lot of people like Elvis and he is part of the popular culture. No reason Elvis' heirs and assigns should be able to continue to make money off of it, right?

How is copyright any different? (Other than intangibility)

John Henry

Darkisland said...

For the record, I fully agree that the owner of the TKAM copyright has an absolute right to control what is done with it.

I know nothing beyond what Ann has posted and care even less. But it seems like Sorkin is out of line.

John Henry

narayanan said...

So ...
how many agree why Howard Roark had to blow up that building in The Fountainhead??!!

n.n said...

To paraphrase Shakespeare:

A play is but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets its hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

The Godfather said...

Lee’s contract with Scott — which was now the estate’s — also stated that I would not “alter its characters” or “depart in any manner from the spirit of the novel.”

A competent lawyer would advise a client not to sign a contract with such subjective provisions -- they invite dispute and litigation. If you can't get rid of that kind of language, then what you should do is make it enforceable ONLY through arbitration by a panel of literary experts. And put strict time limits on the objections to the script and the conduct of the arbitration.

Kevin said...

The producers wanted to license the work because it will draw people to a well-known and beloved story.

The lawsuit sends a message the story is being altered in ways the copyright holder does not condone.

Thus, the play becomes not about honoring the original but how far it can be altered while still retaining the name.

Sorkin believes there is much room for "improvement". The lawyers agree he has much license to do so.

It seems the producers, seeing their original premise shattered, have decided otherwise.

Otto said...

Interesting that " Jesus Christ " is an issue. Funny 4.2 billion people have no issue with that word. Sorkin lives in a cocoon.

Goddess of the Classroom said...

TKAM is my favorite American novel. I named one of my children after one of the characters. I HATE that some people get caught up on the trial and the "n-word." It's about SCOUT and how she remembers seeing the world through her eyes as a child.
Calpurnia would NEVER, EVER, speak back to Atticus.

narciso said...

I thought he was adapting the sequel, or prequel, which casts a different perspective on atticus finch,

rehajm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rehajm said...

9th circuit rules in favor of Sorkin doing whatever he wants.

chillblaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim maguire said...

John Henry, you seem to follow the European model of copyright. That is not the American model and never has been. Copyright is a carve out from the first amendment (yes, I know, copyright came first, but philosophically, it is an exception to free speech). That is why the constitution specifies "for limited times." The sole constitutional purpose of copyright is to encourage the creation of works (“To promote the progress of science and useful arts"). Any protection that goes beyond that purpose is unconstitutional.

Curent copyright terms are unconstitutional because they are too long and the public is harmed as a result.

chillblaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chillblaine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew Sablan said...

Why not have Scout be the character who butts heads with Calpurnia like in the book?

Matthew Sablan said...

... Did they not realize that Scout is the character under going an arc? The whole point is that she grows. She thinks Atticus has always been Atticus even saying that in the book.

Sorkin and Scott fundamentally misunderstood the novel.

Matthew Sablan said...

... Did Sorkin really minimize Calpurnia's role in the novel to baking crackling bread? My God.

Matthew Sablan said...

I wanted to not marginalize black characters. So the story is a memory play about the death of Bob Ewell. Too bad no other characters died.

Matthew Sablan said...

... So he shopped for a friendly judge and turned legal screws to win. He is an asshole.

Narayanan Subramanian said...

Berween Sorkin and Scott who is disposable from the project at this point? Or who has upper hand?

Narayanan Subramanian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Daniels said...

When I saw the report on the new 'To Kill a Mockingbird' play on '60 Minutes' last night, I couldn't help thinking, "Why didn't Sorkin write a completely new work to address the issues in a modern context, as he says is his purpose?" I love Sorkin's and Daniels' work, but truly if they want to turn Atticus Finch into a clueless, post-modern anti-hero, they shouldn't do it with an established work of art. This seems like exploitation to me and I would have preferred for Lee's estate not to have settled on their case against this new production.

wildswan said...

It's a book about growing up and surviving the place where you live. There's plenty who have trouble living in that town - Boo Radley, The man who married among the blacks, the farm children with no money, the woman addicted to morphia, Mae Ewell - and Tom Robinson. Atticus is trying to raise his children to be a certain kind of person - not dragged this way or that way by talk, able to sympathize with sickness, able to resist the pressures of the surrounding society when it is at its worst. But he isn't doing it with smart talk and maybe Sorokin did "hate" the book for being full of people who were not from New York and didn't talk like the head of an HR department. Maybe he did want to change these Southerners into a lot of hectoring, glib New Yorkers. Southerners do polite and New York has never figured out why.

Matthew Sablan said...

After reading this, I find it hard to believe Sorkin did not read Go Set a Watchman.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Ray Bradbury's preface, mentioned above, has a very on-point title:
More than one way to burn a book

William said...

Random thoughts on remakes: I wonder why there have been so many successful remakes of Pride and Prejudice, and there's never been a successful film of Vanity Fair. I guess Gone With The Wind was sort of an update of Vanity Fair in that Margaret Mitchell used the Becky/Amelia dynamic for Scarlett/Melanie........In the next remake of Gatsby, they should have a Robert Redford type play Buchanan and a Jimmy Cagney or Al Pacno type play Gatsby. Buchanan is the guy with karma. He is his own green light. He doesn't have to reach out for it. Of course the gets the girl in the end. ..A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was my personal To Kill A Mockingbird. Betty Smith also got lucky in the sense that the movie is as good as her book. There's not much controversy about the book or the movie, but the depiction of immigrant life is not redolent of white privilege. I don't think the book gets read much anymore. No useful lessons about white privilege to be learned from it.

gg6 said...

I Luv hearing a guy in a faux 'artistic' business who has made a fortune by trampling anyone/everyone in front of him start whining about being unjustly thwarted. My heart breaks.

Gahrie said...

Curent copyright terms are unconstitutional because they are too long

They're going to be extended again soon...Mickey's copyright is about to expire again....

richard mcenroe said...

Just from those quotes I have no interest in seeing this play.

Daniel Richwine said...

I never liked "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Tina Trent said...

TKAM, the book, makes a lot out of Atticus' sister and his family's past, all the unsavory bits removed from the better-known movie in order to make him the fetishistic object of desire for the criminal defense types.

I doubt Sorkin is talking about including that stuff.

Joanne Jacobs said...

I'm surprised Sorkin doesn't mention the movie of "To Kill a Mockingbird." He's not the first to dramatize the story.

Also: Isn't Jeff Daniels too old for Atticus?

PatHMV said...

J. Farmer, thank you for the reference to Malice. I've been trying and trying to remember the movie where Alec Baldwin played a complete asshole of a doctor with a major God complex. That's the one! It was a good movie.

On the subject of adaptations of To Kill a Mocking Bird, I'm with the majority on here. The book (and the original movie version, which I presume Lee watched over carefully and signed off on every detail of) is Lee's vision of a particular place and time. Moreover, the work is closely connected with Lee personally, given her lack of other significant writings. To change the book would risk changing public perception of Lee herself, which just doesn't seem fair. If you want to write "Atticus: Reimagined" or something, go for it. But don't change To Kill a Mockingbird.