Sometimes There are Happy Endings
I consider myself lucky. My book, The Geography of Bliss, made the leap from page to screen, and is now airing on Peacock, NBC’s streaming service. It wasn’t easy. The road was long and winding, replete with speed bumps, potholes and the occasional pile-up. But, as I said, I’m fortunate. My experience working with Rainn Wilson (pictured above) and the rest of Team Bliss was overwhelmingly positive. (I served as co-executive producer on the project.)
Are there lessons to be learned? Absolutely. Here are five of them:
1. No One Ghosts Like Hollywood
Every few months, with surprising regularity, I’d receive an email from a Hollywood producer that went something like this: “We love, LOVE your book and would like to turn it into a feature film/documentary/infomercial. We are VERY excited about this project. Can we talk?” We would then take a meeting where said producers would express their undying love and excitement in breathless terms. Then: nothing. I would never hear from them again. I began to detect an inverse relationship between the intensity of their love for my book and the odds of the project going anywhere. I gave up — almost.
2. Not Everyone in Hollywood is a Fickle, Ghosting Jerk
“All you have to do is write one true sentence,” said Hemingway. And all you need in Hollywood is one true, and honest, producer. I found one. His name is Casey Scharf. He reached out to me, just like the others. Unlike the others, he was neither breathless nor fickle. He was determined and in it for the long haul. He was going to turn my book into a docuseries, and he did. He did, despite a pandemic and logistical snags and other roadblocks of which I remained blissfully unaware. Casey restored my faith in Hollywood, and possibly humanity.
3. Celebrities are People Too
When I first met Rainn Wilson, I was nervous. I may be a “mini-celebrity,” as someone once said, but Rainn (who played Dwight in “The Office”) is a maxi-celebrity. Yet it turns out he is a human first, celebrity second. He is smart and funny and flawed — and, remarkably, he is open about his flaws. All of this, I think, made him the perfect person for this project. Rainn is me…