It’s not irregular that an adaptation of a novel be set for pre-production before the book itself is released. At least once a year, a story comes out that a studio has grabbed up rights to some novel or non-fiction tome that has yet to hit the shelves but clearly has popular appeal. In this case, it’s a book called “The Voyeur’s Motel” by Gay Talese, an extension of an article that appeared in the April 11th issue of The New Yorker; the book will be released this summer. This morning, it was confirmed by Deadline that Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks will be producing the project for director Sam Mendes, who will be returning to the strangeness of the suburbia after giving the James Bond franchise a double-shot in the arm with Skyfall and Spectre.
Even the bare bone of the story are hugely tantalizing: Gerald Foos, a mild-mannered Colorado man, spent decades of his life secretly spying on the guests at his motel, and sent reports of his findings to Talese. The writer wanted to incorporate Foos into the book he was writing back then, but for many, many years, the correspondent insisted on anonymity and wouldn’t allow his story to be told. Mendes has always been best when dealing with the adulteries and bad behaviors of the suburban family, whether in American Beauty or his undervalued adaptation of Revolutionary Road. This story could bring out the very best in him, so here’s hoping casting and scripting go well.
Here’s the official synopsis of the book, which will be out via Grover Press on July 12th:
On January 7, 1980, in the run-up to the publication of Thy Neighbor’s Wife, Gay Talese received an anonymous letter from a man in Colorado. “Since learning of your long awaited study of coast-to-coast sex in America,” the letter began, “I feel I have important information that I could contribute to its contents or to contents of a future book.” The man went on to tell Talese a remarkable, shocking secret, so compelling that Talese traveled to Colorado to verify it in person. But because the letter-writer insisted on remaining anonymous, Talese filed his reporting away, certain the story would remain untold.
Over the next thirty-five years, the man occasionally reached out to Talese to fill him in on the latest developments in his life, but he continued to insist on anonymity. Finally, after thirty-five years, he’s ready to go public.