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: Continue reading…