Just as TV networks have been forced to reshuffle their skeds to keep kids with guns off primetime, the effect of the Littleton, Colo., tragedy is also being felt in the film-development community.
On April 21, the manuscript for Mira Sorgi’s “Undertake Me” began making the rounds of publishing houses, development offices and book scouts.
Many liked the book, a bleakly comic sendup of high school mores that garnered comparisons to “Heathers,” “To Die For” and “Welcome to the Dollhouse.” While “Undertake Me” reps a retooling of “Vanity Fair,” it also contains enough sex and raunchy language to make William Makepeace Thackeray turn in his grave — the main character is a tuba player turned oral-sex expert named Potentate.
What’s really giving readers pause, however, is the fact that Potentate kills her friend and fakes her own suicide. The book landed on desks the same day that Eric Harris’ and Dylan Klebold’s yearbook photos appeared on the front page of every paper. All of a sudden, Sorgi’s acerbic wit seemed a lot less hilarious.
Change of perspective
“We thought it was very funny,” says an editor at one of the dozen publishing houses to which it was submitted. “It’s just that, after Colorado, we felt guilty for laughing.”
Sonnenfeld-Josephson, which had spotted the manuscript through their Gotham development office, saw a world of potential for the book in the current teen-obsessed marketplace. They brought it to Disney, with whom they have a first-look deal, hoping the Mouse House would option it on their behalf.
Ever-cautious, Disney wanted nothing to do with the book. And, as of late Friday, dozens of other producers and publishing houses had weighed in with similar responses.