Way back in 2005, Tom Wolfe’s then-newish novel I Am Charlotte Simmons was optioned, with Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves co-writer John Watson set to pen the screenplay. Almost three years since that deal was announced, the film is moving forward once again; now music video director Liz Friedlander has been added to the slate.
Sloth is par for the course when dealing with Wolfe. His second piece of fiction, A Man In Full, was published eleven years after Bonfire of the Vanities, the novel that turned him from New Journalism star to dramatic gadfly. Bonfire was also the last of his works to be adapted to the screen; I’m not certain that even Jeremy, our resident DePalma enthusiast, would defend the result, touched as it was by studio and star interference. Given the team that is slowly being assembled for this one, it’s impossible not to wonder if Wolfe’s fiction retains the stain of Bonfire‘s failure.
That being the case, Charlotte Simmons doesn’t seem like the idea way to get the man’s books back on the screen. It’s an unconvincing slice of campus life that attempts to satirize the tug of war between sports and academics, popularity and sex. If nothing else, it featured enough bad sex to win an award. The flick could be rewritten into a real satire, if Wolfe’s out of touch sensibility was eased out, and it could turn into a solid starring role for any number of young actresses. Or maybe they’ll just give it to Hayden Panetierre.