by Larry Brody
I admit it. I’ve always found it hard to believe that the Fifty Shades of Grey books had any fans, let alone the millions of people we know have been buying, and maybe actually reading, them.
I’ve also found it hard to believe that the Fifty Shades of Grey film and its upcoming sequels have fans as well.
And to top it all off, how could I possibly ever believe that the Shadesies are all concerned about who’s going to write the second film in the franchise? I mean, really?
But concerned they are. I’ve gotten emails and messages from fans (mostly women, it’s true) concerned that the hiring of UK screenwriter Niall Leonard is going to destroy their beloved semi-porn because:
1) Leonard doesn’t have any semi-porn experience and won’t get the sex scenes right
2) Leonard isn’t a woman and therefore won’t get the psyche of the heroine right
3) Leonard is the husband of Fifty Shades writer E.L. James and therefore is the world’s most obvious symbol of nepotism in the film world today
Normally, I wouldn’t pay attention to any of this, but the flood of email has been huge, so I’ve been thinking about the situation so I could come up with some kind of reassuring reply. It’s the least I can do for all those TVWriter™ visitors, or so it seems to me.
So, armed with my trusty smartphone (sorry, kids, but it’s an HTC One, not an iPhone because I’m trying to jettison the usual trappings of showbiz now that I’m “semi-retired”), I’ve done a little research, and here’s what I’ve discovered:
Niall Leonard is one of the most awesome writers around. He’s primarily a TV guy and has been a writer on some of the most respected shows in the U.K. Go to INDB and see!, the dude’s written for WILD AT HEART, WIRE IN THE BLOOD, MONARCH OF THE GLEN, HOLBY CITY, SILENT WITNESS, THE DARK ROOM, and – for me this is the big one – BALLYKISSANGEL.
Why is BALLYKISSANGEL important to me?
Because it’s possibly the best series to ever appear on BBC, or on TV anywhere, for that matter. And he wrote it in that show’s early days, when its main storyline was about an Irish Catholic priest who falls in love with one of his parishoners. And, yes, she’s in love with him too, and one thing between them leads to another and – brace yourself for the SPOILER, and skip the rest of this paragraph if spoilers bug you – in an otherwise realistic although somewhat whimsical series about small town life, the Lord God Himself gets so pissed off about what’s happened that he smites the woman.
Strikes her d-e-a-d.
Leaving the priest-hero so broken that he tears off his collar and vanishes from, well, from everywhere (although the actor playing the part, Stephen Tompkinson, has emerged as the lead in half a dozen series including ITV’s current DCI BANKS).
In other words, Niall Leonard isn’t just a pro, he’s a pro’s pro.
Which means that his wife, E.L. James, not only hasn’t harmed her property by installing Leonard has writer of FIFTY SHADES DARKER, she’s upped its potential a hundredfold.
Which also may mean – go with me on this, will you? – that something’s up here. E.L. James isn’t just an amateur, a housewife who got lucky, she’s been around, if not in, showbiz for almost thirty years. She and her husband are one smart couple. Smart enough to have strategized and written and worked their butts off to make sure lightning struck.
Did they actually do this? Combine in order to create and promote the FIFTY SHADES concept into the financial winner it’s become? I can’t say for sure because I mean it when I say I have no insider knowledge. But I hope that’s what happened. I hope they focused on a target audience and created a target project and promoted it into the sensation it is today. And if they did, I hope they get even richer from it.
Because it’s about time some real, live, flesh and blood humans in the trenches got the Big Bucks out of their efforts.
It’s about time real, life, flesh and blood humans and not asshole corporate entities came out as the BIG WINNERS in the Game.