I’m a bad reporter. When I was at a roundtable interview with George Clooney this weekend, he casually dropped that he and partner Grant Heslov had bought “that Grisham book.” I assumed this was something that had been announced that I had just missed, so I didn’t lob a follow-up.
That was dumb.
Today Variety has announced that Clooney and Heslov have optioned the new John Grisham non-fiction book, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, for their new production company, Smoke House. At this point the duo will just be producing, and considering that Clooney’s slate is very, very full for the next year and a half, I wouldn’t expect him to get too involved if they hope to make the movie anytime soon.
Grisham’s book is one of those that force me to re-evaluate the author in general. One of the best-sellingest writers of our times, Grisham has left behind by-the-number legal potboilers for a true story of justice miscarried. It’s about a guy who served 11 years on death row for a murder he didn’t commit; the case against him was so flimsy that the main witness was later convicted of the killing. I haven’t read the book but I understand that it’s a powerful indictment of the death penalty.
Grisham brings with him millions of readers, many of them unthinkingly pro-death, who might have their perspectives changed by this case. It’s exciting to see a pop-lit guy doing something like that.