LEE MARVIN BIOPIC: BACKGROUND & POSSIBILITIES

A Lee Marvin biopic would seem like a natural following the surprise success (except to me, of course) of the publication of Lee Marvin Point Blank in 2013.  Why? Well, one would just naturally assume that any non-fiction title that made the NY Times, Publisher’s Weekly and Wall Street Journal’s best seller list in the top five would have studios and executive producers just scrambling for the rights. Sadly, that has not been the case (yet) but it can be rectified with a little background info.
I have written about the possibility previously on this blog, as readers may have noticed. I’ve brought up the subject based on lead actors, young and old, possible directors, even casting ideas for supporting characters.

Schaffner Press decided to include the sunburst image and green banner highlight for Lee Marvin Point Blank’s paperback release in 2014.

Why have I written about it? A couple of reasons. First and foremost, the market for biopics has gained enormous interest lately, as detailed earlier this year in Market Watch.
Secondly, I would be less than an honest if I said the idea of a Lee Marvin biopic based on my book had not crossed my mind while I was working on it. It took me nearly 20 years to get a publisher interested in my book and the idea of a biopic existed even then.
My agent, Mike Hamilburg and I were constantly being told that the proposal is well-written but that there wasn’t a market for a Lee Marvin bio. Then Tim Schaffner of Schaffner Press agreed to publish it on almost a whim in 2013. It won several awards when it came out and, as previously mentioned, in June of 2014, the e-book made the NY Times bestseller list at #4. Wall Street Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, too! So much for there not being any interest in the project.
Okay, all that said, it was my agent, Mike, Hamilburg, who first suggested I write a film treatment based on the book.

I did just that, submitted it to him and was told that he would then shop it around as he thought it was one of the best he had ever come across. This, coming from the guy who helped put together the film American Hustle (!) Unfortunately, Mike fell into a coma around the holidays and died New Year’s Day, 2016. The project has been in free fall ever since, with no agent and no way to contact anyone to pitch it to for a possible option, which is a VERY frustrating situation.

One of the rare times Lee Marvin himself played a real-life character on film was RCMP’s Edgar Millen in DEATH HUNT.

Lee Marvin as Edgar Millen in DEATH HUNT.

I feel without a doubt Marvin’s PTSD and how he dealt with it is a major selling point. The time period it encompasses is also a popular aspect. I like to think of it as sort of The Hurt Locker meets “Mad Men.”
A good example of success in this area is FX Channel’s show about Bette Davis & Joan Crawford called “Feud” which was extremely popular and dealt with the same time period as the bulk of my Marvin bio. It too, was based on a popular book (by Shaun Considine that came out in 1989). I hope I won’t have to wait that long for an option but you get the point I’m making:
There is an audience for a great biopic just waiting to be seen and I own the copyright and the registration with the Writer’s Guild.
So, with that in mind, I unabashedly state that if anybody reading this has possible industry connections and likes the idea of a Lee Marvin biopic, do not hesitate to contact me here and we can definitely work out a deal. Seriously. Let me know and we can get the ball rolling. Until then, here’s hoping some clear thinking investor/producer/entrepreneur reads this and does indeed make contact. Fingers crossed.

Title page with logline, tagline, copyright & WGA registration for the film treatment FROM HELL TO HOLLYWOOD based on LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK.

-Dwayne Epstein

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PAST BIRTHDAYS REMEMBERED…. OF THE RECENT PAST

Past Birthdays
Having just recently had another birthday (never mind which one!), I’m reminded of some recent past birthdays. One in particular was when I turned 50 and was not feeling particularly happy about it. In fact, I was downright depressed. Both my parents had passed away, my agent was not having much luck finding a publisher for Lee Marvin Point Blank and…I turned 50!
Luckily, my wonderful girlfriend suggested we go to a movie. Not just any movie, mind you, but a screening at the Academy of one of my favorite actor’s films….

Program to the birthday screening at the Academy of John Garfield’s Body & Soul.

It proved to be quite the tonic as I discovered several prominent guests were to be attendance. Film essayist Kim Morgan of Sunset Gun was there, as well as noir maven and Charles McGraw biographer Alan K. Rode, so I came prepared….

Alan K. Rode’s Charles McGraw bio.

I love what he wrote!

The best was saved for last. After the film, there was a Q&A conducted by Morgan and her special guest, John Garfield’s daughter, Julie Garfield. She was a wonderful and poignant storyteller of her father’s legacy. Pretty good actress, too. Check out her performance as Robert DeNiro’s wife in Goodfellas. Anyway, she told a marvelous story about her father’s way of dealing with the persistent FBI agents who hounded him during the Red Scare that got applause when she told it. Great stuff.
After the Q&A, she spoke briefly with the crowd from the raised stage. Due to the subject of the film I came prepared for a possibility and lo and behold……

My copy of author (now actor) Jim Beaver’s wonderful 1970s tome on Garfield.

Beaver’s autograph.

Following my chat with Jim Beaver, I found myself staring up at Julie Garfield from my place below the stage. I briefly mentioned to her that it was my birthday and she made it a terrific one. She smiled at me, knelt down, took my face in both hands and kissed me on the lips!

After kissing me, Julie Garfield signed this page in Jim Beaver’s book.

Naturally, I was in heaven. What had been a rotten birthday was capped with a wonderful evening. Who could ask for more? Some past birthdays are definitely better than others. My girlfriend Barbara and I went out to our car only to find a parking ticket on it.
Yeah, happy birthday.
P.S. a few months later my agent Mike Hamilburg and I were in negotiations with Schaffner Press for the publication of Lee Marvin Point Blank.
Yep, some things ARE definitely worth the wait.
-Dwayne Epstein

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AUTHORS AS FRIENDS HAS ITS ADVANTAGES

Authors as Friends
One of the perks of being a published author is making authors as friends. Once Lee Marvin Point Blank made the light of day, I found myself becoming friends with fellow authors, especially those of the non-fiction cinema history variety. We’d meet via social media or at book signings and the result was often the bonding of kindred spirits.
Take for example Steve Stoliar. author of the wonderful book, Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho’s House.

The cover of Steve Stoliar’s RAISED EYEBROWS, rendered by the great Drew Friedman.

We made friends on Facebook only to discover that we had more in common than our mutual interests. Turns out, Mike Hamilburg was also his agent for this great memoir and like he did with my book, Hamilburg got it sold when everybody else turned it down. Now that is an agent! Steve and I were able to commiserate about it at Mike’s funeral in 2016.

Steve’s signature when we met says it all.

By the way, Steve’s book, an amazing tale of his years working and living with the legendary Groucho Marx at the end of his life, has been optioned as a film to be directed by none other than Rob Zombie (!). The guessing game as to who will play the late-life Groucho has become the bane of Steve’s social media existence.

Another one of the ‘authors as friends’ I met via social media is the wonderfully talented and prolific, Brian Jones. We met when he backed me up on several political posts, siding with my appreciation of Hillary Clinton. I then discovered he had written about Washington Irving, George Lucas, and a bio that landed him a spot on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Dammit!), due to his worthy subject: Jim Henson.

My copy of Brian Jones’ wonderful biography, JIM HENSON.

Brian’s appropriate signature to me.

VERY much looking forward to Brian’s next project, an overdue biography on the legendary Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Suess. It comes out May of next year and I will definitely be reading it!

Not all ‘authors as friends’ are met by yours truly via social media. The now defunct West Hollywood Book Fair invited me to be on a panel of celebrity biographers. I was lucky enough to to be seated next to Jim Gladstone, author of The Man Who Seduced Hollywood: The Life & Loves of Greg Bautzer, Tinseltown’s Most Powerful Lawyer.

Jim Gladstone’s THE MAN WHO SEDUCED HOLLYWOOD, a great read!

Jim Gladstone’s signature in my copy of his Greg Bautzer biography.

Between the audience Q&A’s, we talked about our books, got to know each other, and a few weeks later he and his wife and my fiancé and myself are going out to dinner at Long Beach’s Parker’s Lighthouse. Turns out he’s a good guy and like all the ‘authors as friends’ mentioned here, is the creator of a terrific tome that I highly recommend.

All three of the aforementioned titles have something in common with Lee Marvin Point Blank. They are all bestsellers that are well written, well researched and have fascinating subjects. Check them out for yourself or if you prefer start with Lee Marvin Point Blank and work from there. You won’t be disappointed.
-Dwayne Epstein

 

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