— Angela Bassett News (@AngieBNews) April 5, 2013
Apparently, Angela Bassett’s feature directorial debut is still very much alive, according to the above tweet, which was posted by the Angela Bassett News Twitter account, and then retweeted by Bassett herself, suggesting that she confirms what’s been said.
This might be old news, although I’m just learning that, T.D. Jakes has come on-board to produce Bassett’s directorial debut, which I also recently learned is currently titled Book Of The Year, with the latest update on IMDBPro stating that, as of February of this year, the project is still in the script stage.
It’s been a good 1 1/2 to 2 years since we last posted a update on this project, which I thought was likely dead.
If you’ve been reading this site long enough, you’d recall that Angela Bassett was to make her directorial debut, with a film called United States, previously titled Erasure – an adaptation of the popular novel of the same name by Percival Everett.
In late 2011, I checked in with the screenwriter (Dwayne Johnson-Cochran) who’s adapting the book into screenplay format, and he told me that there really wasn’t anything new to report on it, and that I should reach out to him again after time had passed, which I most certainly will.
It’s been suggested in the past by some that Erasure, the novel, was a scathing critique of Push, the novel by Sapphire, on which Precious, the movie, was based. Others have argued that it’s actually a critique of Richard Wright’s Native Son. And still there are those who say that it’s a criticism of writers like Terri McMillan and the whole idea of Oprah’s book club.
I’m sure Ms Bassett is aware of all the above, as she embarks on adapting the fiery novel, and the conversation that will likely accompany the film’s release – whenever it’s made.
Erasure focuses on Monk Ellison, a prominent black writer – the hyper-literate son of middle-class suburban parents, who writes obscure post-modern novels reinterpreting Greek classics. With his most recent manuscript receiving its 17th rejection from a publisher, frustrated with the publishing industry’s interest in releasing certain kinds of black-themed books by black authors (I’m sure you can guess which kinds), Monk, under a pseudonym, writes a parody of the “ghetto-fiction” genre, which he calls Ma Pafology (a title he later changes to simply, Fuck). Fuck is an autobiography told from the perspective of an illiterate black man, and much to his surprise, the book garners lots of critical and commercial acclaim, and soon becomes a possible contender for the National Book Award, leaving Monk in a crisis of conscience – to choose between telling the truth or being famous.
In a sample sequence within Erasure, which some say supports above arguments about the novel’s intent, Monk sees a poster announcing a reading by an author named Juanita Mae Jenkins, described as “author of the runaway bestseller ‘We’s Lives in Da Ghetto’,” a novel that begins: “My fahvre be gone since time I’s borned and it be just me an’ my momma an’ my baby brover Juneboy.“
Also, in another sequence, Monk reads reviews that praise Jenkins’ novel for its “haunting realness;” he watches Jenkins on a talk show whose black female host has chosen the novel for her book club; and more…
Bassett’s film has been “in development” since 2006. A long journey to production. But it’s clearly still alive, and I suppose it’s a matter of when, and not if. It’s not clear when TD Jakes came onboard, but he definitely wasn’t attached when we last wrote about the project in 2011, so he must have signed up in the last 12 months or so.
Maybe with Jakes’ presence, and clout, he might be able to push the production forward finally. And I should mention Courtney B. Vance is also a producer.
But I think it’ll be interesting to see what kinds of conversations the film inspires whenever it’s eventually released.
From Erasure, to United States and, now, Book Of The Year is the film’s title.
Looking forward to casting…