romantic comedy, via Billy Mernit

I’ve fallen behind with weblog reading. Really behind. Even the weblogs I love best. Billy Mernit has been going great guns without me, which makes me feel … I dunno. Frantic to catch up, maybe. It’s like finding out that you were sitting outside in the hallway while [your favorite musician] was in the auditorium playing her heart out, but you just couldn’t get your algebra homework done in time to go in.

Or something. So maybe that’s reaching a little far, okay. What can I say? Romantic comedy types tend to big gestures.

[asa book]0307395375[/asa]So Billy Mernit is the master of the romantic comedy film (if you don’t want to take my word for it, go over there and read the blog); and now he’s got a novel coming out. I’m looking forward to it and I’m dreading it. I’ll read it the minute it comes out. I hope I love it. I hope I hate it. No, I really do want to love it. But think about this: people jump through hoops to get Billy Mernit to read and comment on their rom com scripts, and now I’ll be paying to read his novel.

Really, I’m thrilled for him. Of course. But does he have to be good at everything?

Those of you who have been around here for a long time may remember that I wrote a screenplay with my friend Suz (mentioned recently), a romantic comedy set in Chicago and Italy in the early sixties. We had huge fun doing it. Good Neighbor Bob (the X-Files producer, I’ve mentioned him before) read it and said two things: (1) it’s hysterical and (2) you’ll never get an American film company to do it.

What about Chocolat? We asked. Set in rural France. A quasi rom-com. Did well at the box office.

Financed and made in Europe, said he.

So it sits in a drawer. We look at it now and then and think of turning it into a novel, because while Billy Mernit doesn’t have any trouble getting people to look at his screenplays, I can usually get people to look at my novels.

Now, about his top ten post-war romantic comedies. Here they are. I’ve crossed off the ones I don’t agree with:
The Apartment; The Graduate; Annie Hall (alternate: Manhattan); Tootsie; Moonstruck; Say Anything (alt: Jerry Maguire); When Harry Met Sally; Groundhog Day; Four Weddings and a Funeral (alt: Notting Hill); A Fish Called Wanda. (alt: There’s Something About Mary)

So we only agree on about half of the ten. Here is my list, reordered, with replacements: When Harry Met Sally, Groundhog Day, Annie Hall, Moonstruck, Bull Durham, Say Anything, Stranger than Fiction, Impromtu, Purple Rose of Cairo, While You Were Sleeping.

And now for something a little different:


excerpt from Malconvento (aka Nuns with Guns), copyright Rosina Lippi, Susanne Antonettaall rights reserved

ARTURO
(pacing)
Wasn’t there some old story about the convent…

FATHER DOCCHIO
Not that!

ARTURO
Nobody was supposed to talk about it…

GIANNI PAOLO
What you’re thinking of is the story about the naughty Nuns and the Not-So-Nice convent.

Gianni outlines a female form in the air and wiggles his eyebrows suggestively. Father Docchio is making a hand gesture, absent-mindedly conflating a clerical gesture with some kind of malocchio (evil eye) hand signal.

FATHER DOCCHIO
Infamia!

ARTURO
Oh yeah. The nun with the boyfriend, some kind of priest…

ALDO LOZZI
…the bishop!

ARTURO
And she got mad at him…

GIANNI
…for stepping out on her…

MARIA
…that’s rumor, pure and simple…

ALDO LOZZI
…so she fed him poison mushrooms with his veal.

MARIA
(begrudgingly)
That part’s true.

FATHER DOCCHIO
Do not speak of such things!

He jumps up and runs out.

GIANNI
Then she eats a big helping herself and two of the other nuns clean up the leftovers.
Three dead nuns, one dead bishop. Such a scandal…

ALDO LOZZI
That was the end of the convent. They even changed the name.

MARIA
Men! Always overreacting.

Arturo is pacing back and forth excitedly.

ARTURO
Sex… jealousy… love triangles… murder in a convent… That’s it! We got a slogan! Malconvento: The Home of the Naughty Nuns!

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