When I graduated from college in 1997, I wanted to be Beau Willimon. Never mind that Willimon was then a sophomore at Columbia University and completely unknown to me; it’s what he’s now accomplishing with an MFA in Abject Poverty Playwriting that closely mirrors my own youthful (and now sadly erstwhile) ambitions. Over the coming year, his play Farragut North will debut on Broadway under the direction of Mike Nichols (with Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role, and I could take or leave that part of the fantasy), while the film version could get underway as a directing/acting vehicle for, respectively, George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Exactly how many busloads of kids has Willimon saved from certain death in his lifetime?
I may be a little envious (probably a lot if you get me drunk enough), but, nevertheless, I am fervently in Willimon’s corner at least until I read the play/screenplay. Anyone fool enough to enter the real world with a degree in theatre has my respect and admiration. Willimon’s play, loosely based on his experiences campaigning for Howard Dean in 2004, is about a young "communications director" for a grass roots presidential candidate who gets his clock cleaned by the more experienced, less principled political competition. I can see why Nichols fell in love this material; it sounds like an inverted, idealistic variation on Primary Colors. If we’re really speeding toward a Clinton v. Giuliani (or Thompson) ’08 race, Willimon’s play could be, if nothing else, a welcome piece of escapism. Or maybe it’ll just drive us deeper into depression. I can get with either of those options.
DiCaprio still hasn’t decided what he’s doing post-Body of Lies, and Clooney will presumably be finished editing Leatherheads by February, so maybe this gets before cameras as soon as… the end of March ’08? It’s set up at Warner Brothers as a joint Appian Way/Smoke House production. In the meantime, Willimon is banging out an adaptation of the BBC mini The Jury for Marc Forster.