One thing that is always cool for an author is to have your book optioned to be a TV show or film. That is something that happened to Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez that author of several novels including the best-seller The Dirty Girls Social Club.
Valdes-Rodriguez probably thought she hit the jackpot when two Latina women got involved with the project. George Lopez’ wife Ann bought her book to adapt it into a series to be written by Luisa Leschin who had five years experience as executive producer on the George Lopez show.
Well things did not go as expected and in the last couple of weeks the author has taken to the internet to make her feelings known. Clearly her feelings have been heard and some things are happening because she has taken down all the posts and is trying to make nice to NBC (where the show is being developed.)
But as she says in her post she is not backing down and it could be that is going to take some legal action on this front.
Here’s what she wrote on January 1:
As my efforts to see the best possible version of my novel THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB made for the small screen becomes less a battle for public opinion and more a true-blue legal case, I have chosen to respect NBC’s wishes that I remove my posts about the issue for now — even though copyright law offers exceptions and limitations for commentary in the public interest.
I would like you, my dear and faithful readers, to understand that this does not mean I am backing down. It means that I am cooperatively taking this conversation where it must be for now, among lawyers and other assorted people with very nice suits, who make a lot more money than I do.
It seriously takes guts to do what she did which was to say how that her strong female characters were being watered down and changed for TV to make them more palatable. This happens all the time and most people just take the money and shut up. I’m glad she didn’t because seriously do we need another show that perpetuates stereotypes? I’ve never read the novels but from her description of the characters they seem quite interesting and this would definitely be a show I would watch. And I just want to add that there are so few show with women of color as the leads so it is even more important that they not be cartoony or stereotypical.
I found some of her feelings about changes that we made to the story and characters through posts on mylatinovoices.com:
“Lauren Fernandez: the brilliant, dysfunctional journalist is now an unemployed drunk living in a motel:
“Lauren is jobless. In what is possibly and probably a bit of wishful thinking on the screenwriter’s part, Lauren has been fired. We are not told why. Lauren, who previously owned a cute condo in Jamaica Plain, is now living in a cheap residence motel in San Francisco. No more fiance. Lauren, who loved and admired her Texican fiance ED, is now a freewheeling whore. When we first meet her she is probably and possibly having sex with a complete stranger in an airplane bathroom. This is possibly and probably the first scene of the show after the opening credits. It is probable and possible that after screwing a man described only as “young stud” Lauren’s eyes meet his in the mirror and she asks him his name…Skinny and bulimic…Sleeping with her sources. Whereas before Lauren was a highly-trained and professional journalist with influence in her community, it is possible and probable that in her new TV incarnation she is sleeping with members of the mafia who are her sources, because a whore can’t control herself.”
Here are other issues she took with the script:
- Black characters sanitized
- Latina empowerment becomes “sluttiness”
- Normal lesbian character, Elizabeth made pathological and, again “de-Africanized”
I love her description of this:
“I was first alerted to the change in this character over dinner with Ann Lopez, Lynnette Ramirez and Luisa Leschin in Los Angeles eight or nine months ago. After a few cocktails, I asked them what major changes they’d made to my book, and they told me this one only. ‘We had to make her bisexual because the lesbian story line isn’t fresh anymore,’ Lynnette told me. (By that standard, we ought to make all straight characters bisexual too, no?) ‘And, let’s face it,” she said snarkily, ‘no one trusts a bisexual.’ So not only is the script racist against non-US African diaspora and sexist against women in general, it is also homophobic against all us “sick” and “depraved” bisexuals, who, as every male consumer of porn knows, are nothing more than horny women in need of a good, strong man to straighten us out.”
Can’t wait to see how this turns out. So glad she is fighting for the integrity of her work.