Legend has it that in the weeks following September 11, 2001, a fan approached actor Robert De Niro in a New York City diner with a film pitch based on the terrorist attacks. He argued that De Niro could play then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and win the Academy Award for Best Actor. De Niro kicked him out of the diner to everyone’s delight. Whether or not the story is true doesn’t really matter. What does matter is its anecdotal relevance to the bombings at the 117th annual Boston Marathon and Deadline‘s recent report that the film rights to a book currently being written about it have already been purchased in the annals of Hollywood.I already know what you’re thinking–duh! Of course somebody’s writing a book about the bombings.Casey Sherman, a true crime author from Hyannis, and Dave Wedge, a reporter for The Boston Herald, are hard at work on a book tentatively titled Boston Strong that details the April 15 attacks and the subsequent investigation that lead to the death of older brother Tamerlan and the arrest of younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. University Press of New England will publish the book next year. And I already know what you’re thinking – duh! Of course somebody’s writing a book about the bombings. Hell, in a few years’ time there will probably be dozens of books at the local bookstore’s “Current Events” section detailing the week’s events from a variety of different angles.
But I hadn’t even heard about it. I don’t recall any major press announcements concerning Sherman and Wedge’s plans during the past few months. Nor, for that matter, do I remember an official notification from University Press of New England. Perhaps there were, but they were lost in the mix of media. Doesn’t matter anyways, because now I know about the book. And I know about it because, even though it won’t be published until 2014, it’s already being optioned for a film. Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy, screenwriters for the 2010 film The Fighter based on another book by Sherman, acquired the film rights as a direct result of their preexisting professional relationship with the author.Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time that the tragic events of reality were converted into cinematic flare in rapid succession.Much of the reaction to this news, in corners as diverse as Deadline and Boston Magazine, has been the same: TOO SOON. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time that the tragic events of reality were converted into cinematic flare in rapid succession. For all the pomp and circumstance that De Niro reportedly made in that diner, he was on television hosting the Naudet brothers’ 9/11 documentary six months later. Narrative films like Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center followed shortly thereafter. Books were no better, for after a seemingly never-ending tide of nonfiction works, a slew of novels by the likes of Don DeLillo, John Updike, and Jonathan Safran Foer quickly followed.
Aside from the immediate news media fanfare that “took advantage” of the events in progress, other media darlings were quick to do the same in the days after the bombings. Consider Stephen Colbert’s introduction on the April 16 edition of The Colbert Report, one of Comedy Central’s two highly popular fake news shows. Though hilarious, thoughtful, and comforting, one could make the argument that Colbert exploits the attacks for personal gain. And maybe he does, to an extent. But what effect does said “exploitation” have on his audience? I love this clip, and I know that the majority of my friends do, too. As that week progressed, my Facebook newsfeed came alive with reposts of Colbert’s introduction. After all, as the comedian points out, the bombers “obviously didn’t know shit about the people of Boston!”
What are your thoughts? Too soon? Let us know in the comments below!