First Hollywood got Freyed. Now it’s getting burned.
Plagiarism charges against Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan‘s debut novel “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life” could not have come at a more inopportune time for the film adaptation.
DreamWorks had just received a promising first-draft script by Kara Holden when Viswanathan’s school newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, revealed more than 40 similarities between the novel and Megan McCafferty‘s “Sloppy Firsts” and “Second Helpings.”
Suddenly, “Opal Mehta” joined James Frey‘s “A Million Little Pieces” in the double feature from hell.
When the scandal broke, DreamWorks pondered buying rights to McCafferty’s novels to protect itself, sources say. By week’s end, the film looked unsalvageable and the studio was looking at cutting its losses as McCafferty’s publishers threatened a lawsuit, and Little, Brown began pulling “Opal” off shelves.
Is tome taint fatal in Hollywood?
Frey’s disgraced memoir might still work as a film if the scandal and grilling by Oprah Winfrey were its third act, which is maybe why Warner Bros. hasn’t kicked it to the curb.
Since “Opal” is about the drastic steps kids take to crack elite Ivy League schools, why not expand it to the drastic lengths a 19-year-old allegedly takes to crack the literary elite, only to find it more perilous than the teen tradition of cribbing research material for term papers?