Thursday, July 23, 2009


Funny Boys, the latest novel by War of the Roses author Warren Adler about the Borscht Belt and Murder Inc.(circa1937) has been optioned for a film. It is the 12th novel of Mr. Adler’s bought or optioned by Hollywood.

Mr. Adler, whose The War of the Roses novel was adapted as a movie with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner and Random Hearts with Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas, has published 30 novels which have been translated into 25 foreign languages.

Funny Boys is the story of a comedian, or in the Yiddish idiom of the time, a “tumler,” in a Catskill mountain resort hotel in 1937 who gets entangled with the mobsters of Murder Inc.

The story authentically reenacts the speech and customs of the era. In the thirties, forties and fifties the area was known as the Borscht Belt and nourished the careers of some of the most famous comedians of the time such as Milton Berle, Red Button, Jerry Lewis, Sam Levinson, Myron Cohen, Sid Caesar and scores of others.

Murder Inc. was one of the most feared and ruthless gangs in New York, a combination of Jewish and Italian mobsters who wreaked havoc in New York before World War II. The novel recreates the atmosphere and environment of one of the most colorful eras in the twentieth century.

“Every time I option or sell a book to the movies I have high hopes for the picture to be made and be a smash hit. I feel certain that the material in Funny Boys, if handled correctly, has all the ingredients to make that happen.”

Another novel by Mr. Adler and James Hume, Target Churchill, which deals with an assassination attempt on the life of Winston Churchill has also been optioned by another production company. Mr. Adler wrote the screenplay.

Three of Mr. Adler’s short stories in the acclaimed collection entitled The Sunset Gang were adapted into a three-hour trilogy and shown on the PBS network. A musical of the stories written by Mr. Adler with composer L. Russell Brown was performed in Manhattan.

Cited as one of the 100 Best Authors on Twitter, Mr. Adler is also a pioneer in electronic publishing having digitized his books starting more than a decade ago. All of his novels are available on Kindle, the SONY Reader and all digital devices and through bookstores worldwide.

“I am always baffled when a book of mine is either optioned or bought outright by the movie people,” Mr. Adler said. “I don’t write with the movies in mind. One of my books Private Lies was purchased outright for 1.2 million and, after more millions were invested to develop it, it was never made. This was also the fate of Trans-Siberian Express, Madeline’s Miracles, novels from my Fiona FitzGerald mystery series, and others, some of which were optioned and bought numerous times.
“It is a flawed system, but somehow it manages to survive. Unfortunately, original material gets short shrift in the face of Hollywood’s penchant to base its future productions on past marketplace experience. ”

Mr. Adler is often outspoken about the adaptations of his novels. He considers The War of the Roses one of the most successful adaptations of a book to a movie and cites the fact that it has become a classic depiction of divorce. The term a “War of the Roses divorce” is now part of the world-wide nomenclature to describe the existential battles between separating spouses. Mr. Adler has never been divorced.

He was not as complimentary about the way Random Hearts was adapted and wrote a critique of the film in The New York Times.

Mr. Adler is also a playwright and short story writer. His latest collection of stories is New York Echoes and his plays are currently being produced in Europe. He is in the fifth year of his short story contest which has fostered talent among many writers through the contest’s popularity on the Internet.

The option to Lime Orchard Production, helmed by Jami Gertz and Stacey Lubliner was arranged through Hughes Entertainment.

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