Hollywood's 25 Most Powerful Authors
After the success of Lewis’ Liar’s Poker, a memoir of his stint as a bond salesman at Salomon Bros. during the late 1980s, the author attracted the attention of Hollywood — and got some advice from Tom Wolfe on how to deal with it: “Young man, drive across the country, throw your book into Los Angeles, have them throw a sack of money out and drive in the other direction as fast as possible.” Lewis, now 52, took The Bonfire of the Vanities author’s advice, up to a point, realizing the best adaptations of his books happen when the screenwriter is “very happy to break it and remake it.” He says if he had adapted Moneyball, about the impact of the Oakland Athletics’ stats-driven approach to baseball, he would have focused on the team’s ragamuffin players and not GM Billy Beane. Ultimately, the screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin was nominated for an Oscar. “I would have not hung the movie on Beane,” says Lewis. “They completely ignored that. But they were right, and I was wrong.” But Lewis, who is married to former MTV News reporter Tabitha Soren and has three children, is taking a much more active role in two upcoming adaptations, writing the screenplays for Liar’s Poker and Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life. The latter project, about Lewis’ relationship with his childhood baseball coach, is set up at Disney. The long-gestating Liar’s Poker got a jump-start 18 months ago, when Lewis was invited by Warner Bros. to come speak at a forum for execs at the studio. Asked whether he had any advice for the company, Lewis was blunt, “You are morons to not try and make Liar’s Poker now.” This time around, Lewis will be a character in both films. It’s a notion that gives him pause. “I have no doubt I’ll be weirded out by the process. I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head to play me in either case. If the thing is done well, it’s not really me.”
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