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Peter Farrelly: I'm doing great, thank you.
Peter Farrelly: It's based on something that happened to me. When I moved out to Los Angeles to get into the film business, I one day stumbled across a suicide -- a woman jumped off a building, and I was the only witness. I had called the cops, but they didn't respond because they said it was a "private building," and eventually she took the leap. So, I wrote an article in the Los Angeles Times Magazine about it, because the system had broken down, and I thought something could have been done. After the article was published, I was contacted by approximately 30 to 35 very suicidal people, because my phone number was listed, and over a two-week period, I met with most of them, including six at one time, and eventually I got my number changed, and the calls stopped. But people had called because in the article I had been trying to help this woman, and they would say things like, "I read your article, and I'm really suicidal too, would you meet me for coffee?" Anyway, this gave me the idea for the book. The book is about a guy who moves west to become a comedy writer, and he does witness a suicide, writes about it in the L.A. Times Magazine, just as I did, but instead of 30 suicidal people calling, I have one crazy disturbed woman show up at his door. So, it's really about a guy trying to write humor while dealing with somebody's serious problems, which, incidentally, I find makes writing humor easier.
Peter Farrelly: I like writing novels because of the freedom it gives me. A screenplay, no matter how crazy you want to be, has constraints. A book gives you the freedom to do anything, without worrying about whether it's commercial, about whether it has a first, second, or third act, and whether the ending is happy enough to let the test audiences go home happy. Whether or not it's a movie, I never think of it in terms of that when I'm writing it, but I guess that's always a possibility.
Peter Farrelly: No, it didn't. In fact, I cut some dialogue, because I thought it sounded too "movie-ish." I gave the manuscript to my brother, and he circled lines that sounded "too good," like in a movie.
Peter Farrelly: I would hope to be closer to Henry. I think Henry and I are different in certain respects. I'm a raging hypochondriac, but I don't masturbate as much as he does. And the truth is, I still live in Massachusetts and have been lucky enough not to deal with too many Ted Bowmans. On the other hand, I can be pretty creepy, too.
Peter Farrelly: Pretty much. When you're working with guys that talented, you're wise to give them a free rein. They were both extremely gracious in collaborating with Bobby and myself, considering we were first-time directors and didn't know what the f&*% we were doing. On the other hand, you do have to make sure they don't go too far off the page where you lose the meaning of the scene, but luckily, they were too smart for that. By the way, I'm really liking this, because I get to think slowly.
Peter Farrelly: Thank God for that question! You know, for all the grief the film industry gets, I've got to tell you, it is heaven compared to the publishing industry. I am astonished at how low the expectations of the book publishing industry are. For instance, this barnesandnoble.com chat room wouldn't be happening if I didn't call the publicist at Doubleday every single day. It's like they expect the book to come out and survive on its own, which is very frustrating after having made movies, where we spend two or three days at press junkets, where we get to meet three, four, or five hundred different media types. I find it very irritating to have to seemingly do everything to have to sell this book. It seems like the only person who's done anything at Doubleday is a woman named Tammy Blake, my beloved publicist. The rest of them couldn't care less. Not that I expected to make a ton of dough on a book, but when you spend 10 years working on one, you hope that it has a chance to be discovered by the public. There. Now I've pissed off the whole publishing industry.
Peter Farrelly: Yeah, because I wrote it! Like I said, I have to do everything for this d&*$ book!
Peter Farrelly: I can't say any of it is taken verbatim from any experience I had. However, I've had similar comments, particularly when I was starting out, from friends, mostly, because producers and executives and agents would not really take the time to give such good constructive criticism.
Peter Farrelly: Absolutely correct. Like most screenwriters I know, I wasn't trained to be one. I was an accounting major at Providence College, just like Henry, and upon graduation was a salesman for a couple of years, again like Henry. But I quit my job as a salesman when I got it into my head that I wanted to write a book. My goal was to hopefully get published and perhaps get lucky enough to land a teaching job at a reasonably good college. I just wanted to be a writer. I applied to UMass Amherst in the Creative Writing Graduate School, luckily got in (considering I had a 2.0 in college), spent a year there, transferred to Columbia when I couldn't get a teaching assistantship at UMass (due to my business background), and once there decided on a whim to write a screenplay. It just seemed a lot easier. I bought a book called SCREENPLAY by Syd Field, learned the format, i.e., what's capitalized, what's not, where the dialogue goes, etc., then kicked off a screenplay in two weeks with a friend of mine named Bennett Yellin (who eventually cowrote "Dumb and Dumber" with my brother and me). After writing it, I was having dinner with a girl in New York, when she mentioned that Eddie Murphy had just moved in next to her parents in Alpine, New Jersey. I asked her if there was any way she could give him the script. She was thrilled to do so, as she wanted to meet him. The next day she called me and said she'd done the deed. I couldn't believe it, but I still expected him to take the screenplay and throw it away. Then about a month later, I was watching Letterman, and and Eddie was on. He started talking about a screenplay his neighbor had given him that he really liked. He said it was called "Dust to Dust." I almost hit my head on the ceiling. I called Eddie Murphy Productions the next day, they flew us out to L.A., and I had my foot in the door. The screenplay was never made into a movie, but the characters were sort of the seed for Lloyd and Harry in "Dumb and Dumber."
Peter Farrelly: Greg, I'm a little confused by the second part of your question. I definitely believe in karma, in the sense that what goes around comes around, but when you say how did I put it to work in my book, if you mean how did Henry the character put it to use, I would say he took it a step too far, where he became almost obsessive-compulsive, i.e., picking up all the litter, etc. And if you mean, how did I put it to use in writing the book, I would just say I tried to not f*&# too many people over while I was writing it.
Peter Farrelly: I'm trying to describe Henry's point of view. I think too many times in fiction, and movies, and television, the protagonists have become too politically correct to say that they notice a good set of jugs. I know that this could be offensive to women, but the book isn't about a guy who is overly aware of that fact. As far as my own views, yeah, I like big tits, too.
Peter Farrelly: I thought it was insane. They made it sound like we'd created a genre, when really, all we were doing was the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, etc., etc., etc. I think it was slow news time, and in fact, it got to the point where they spent a whole episode of "David Brinkley This Week" discussing it. My brother, Bobby, and I were flabbergasted, and the kicker was, it became clear to us that none of the morons had even seen the movie.
Peter Farrelly: Over the years, my brother and I have been asked this question a lot, and we always racked our brains to come up with an answer. We would say that we saw very few movies growing up, and were influenced mostly by TV, especially "The Three Stooges" and "The Andy Griffith Show." However, we've come to realize that we were trying to give them an answer to a question that really didn't apply to us, because the truth of the matter is, though we liked comedy growing up, especially the Zucker Brothers movies, and a few "Beach Blanket Bingo" types, we weren't really influenced by them. We were more influenced by our immediate family and friends, and a lot of the characters we grew up with in Rhode Island. As for books, I'm not particularly well read, but I would say Phillip Roth is the guy who has influenced me the most, particularly his books MY LIFE AS A MAN and PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT. I also like a guy named George Pelecanos, who writes Washington, DC-based mysteries that are extremely fun. Then, of course, I think everybody or most people are influenced by THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, and I guess I am, too.
Peter Farrelly: Wow. That is a tremendously difficult question. I would certainly have to cut a lot to make it fit into a screenplay formula and would probably get pressure from the studio to change the ending, which I felt was realistic, but they would probably call disappointing. I guess...I'm sorry, this isn't the type of question I can answer in such short notice.
Peter Farrelly: I've no idea, I haven't begun it, though there's a good chance it would, seeing as that's what I'm doing at this point in my life. On the other hand, I've considered writing a book about newlyweds, because I got married a year and a half ago, and there's a lot of fodder there, too.
Peter Farrelly: Whether or not people are not as astute as they once were is anyone's guess. But I try not to "dumb down" just to please the lowest common denominator. Then again, I'm no genius, so I'm not exactly appealing to the brainiacs out there, either.
Peter Farrelly: Well, I think I already answered the second part of the question, but as far as the first, my brother and I also directed the movie, and yes, we got to spend a lot of time with Jim Carrey. He's actually very unlike his screen persona. When we weren't shooting, he was pretty much one of the guys, except he had more panic attacks than the rest of us.
Peter Farrelly: As far as whether the book turns into a movie, I can't say right now. As for my next film project, I want you all listen up very carefully: We have a movie called "There's Something About Mary" coming out on July 15th, and if I do say so myself, it's going to blow your f*&$ing minds. It stars Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller, and Chris Elliott, and it's about as wild a comedy as you can get away with. Trust me on this one.
Peter Farrelly: I have to be very careful here. I won't say that it was based on any one person, because I'm terrified of lawyers, but I had a woman across the hall from me, when I first moved from L.A. who was a Ms. Something-or-other, and tortured the hell out of me.
Peter Farrelly: Yes, I lived in that very apartment.
Peter Farrelly: For a screenwriter, I would definitely recommend SCREENPLAY by Syd Field, and ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE by William Goldman. They're very informative and accurate. WHAT MAKES SAMMY RUN? is also another great Hollywood book, but is more fun than instructional. The bottom line, though, is you'll never learn how to write a screenplay by reading a book, you'll just learn the format and how to present yourself in a professional way. In fact, you could probably learn more about screenwriting from watching movies, good or bad. I would also advise you to not try to write what you think they want, but to put on paper the stories that interest or amuse you. We wrote "Dumb and Dumber" five years before it was ever made, and everyone said it was a piece of sh&*. Who knows? Maybe it was, but it got made, and people went to see it, because it was different. As for writing novels, my only advice is to keep writing, and hope that eventually, if things go well, you could sell a book, and do well enough to teach at a reasonably good college.
Peter Farrelly: I'm grateful that you took the time to tune in, and I wish you all the best.
Posted June 13, 2008
I liked the problems that developed throughout the book but what disappointed me was how the book ended. Unless I just missed it, I don't see how anything was solved and it just left me wondering.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 1, 2009
No text was provided for this review.