New York Magazine just signed on with an agency to represent the magazine as it tries to sell more of its story rights for movies. I think one of the things Adam Moss has done really well is find ways to use local stories to take on national issues, and a lot of those would make pretty excellent adaptations. Here are five recentish stories that have cinematic potential, in no particular order.
1. “I Did It,” Oct. 3, 2010. David Grann’s famous New Yorker piece about the execution of an innocent man is searing, but its villains are also pretty clear, so we can learn a lot about systems from it, but not really much about humanity. But why innocent people confess to doing things they did not do, even convince themselves that they did things they did not do, is complicated and frightening and indict both our institutions for producing false confessions and the nature of what we understand to be true.
2. Rachel Uchitel Is Not a Madam, April 4, 2010. Once, I might have said that “The $2,000 an-Hour Woman” would be a better pitch. But Stephen Soderbergh made it and it’s not that great. Besides, prostitution’s the oldest profession. The story of bottle girls, so-called “half hookers,” of whales, and guys who wish they were whales, has a lot to say about class, and gender. And the story of a woman who lost her fiance on Sept. 11 and ended up as a sex scandal is interesting and uncomfortable in a way that doesn’t quite fit our national narrative.
3. “Sex and the City: The Horror Movie,” Nov. 27, 2005. Because someone needs to make a really great, rich, glossy, insane movie that reminds people that nobody actually lives like Sex and the City, and if they do, something’s very wrong at the heart of it. Because it’s a fantastic story about male obsession. And the cultural references are great.
4. “Everybody Sucks,” Oct. 14, 2007. It’s not really that anyone should make this article into a movie in particular as there should be a Gawker Media (not Gawker-the-website specific) movie that’s a Bright Lights, Big City for a new generation. Sure, Gawker turned snark into the holy grail, but more importantly, by building out news, sports, women, and consumer pages, while adding science fiction and a porn site, Nick Denton (who should be played by Jude Law, right?) reinvented the newspaper for a new generation.
5. “Conspiracy of Two,” Aug. 19, 2007. This story of two artists who got convinced that Scientology was after them and killed themselves would make for a great twitchy, paranoid mystery. Plus, it’s a good art-and-video-game-world business story, if someone took a harder look at the couple’s professional failures and aspirations than Julian Schnabel did in Basquiat (which I saw recently and thought was really not good).