Yes, Melinda, the SPEAK movie is tomorrow

The clocking is ticking…. I’m excited, nervous, happy, nervous….I feel like one of my kids has the lead role in a school play.

Some people still haven’t heard the news so here goes: the film version of SPEAK will be shown on both the Lifetime and Showtime channels tomorrow night, Monday, Sept. 5, at 9 pm. Lifetime will be breaking for commercials. Showtime will not.

Where do I begin? I have so much to tell you about this!

First – I love the movie. A lot. The director, Jessica Sharzer, did a fantastic job. She had a budget of one million dollars (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants had a budget of 25 million), one camera, and three weeks to make the movie. We filmed it in Columbus, OH, during a killer heat wave. The air conditioning in the building had to be turned off because the noise messed up the sound recording. A record-breaking thunderstorm opened up holes in the school’s roof – over the room that held all the electrical boxes – and we lost power for a day. I have no idea how Jessica pulled it off, but she did.

The movie is very faithful to the book, but obviously, some things had to be cut. If they had filmed the whole darned book, it would have been a twelve hour movie. Even my rear end would have protested that. I was offered a chance to work on the screenplay, which I turned down because of other writing obligations. The screenplay was co-written by Jessica and Annie Young, the woman who spent several years fighting and struggling to get the book made into a movie. When Annie first approached me about turning the book into the movie, I had my doubts. But she made it happen, a minor miracle as far as I am concerned.

I was on the set for a couple days, with my oldest daughter, Stephanie. It was a very moving, fun experience for both of us. The cast and crew were sweet, though I found that whenever Mr. Neck walked in the room, my stomach started to hurt. Even though he was sweet off camera, his on-camera role was intense – he nailed it.

Everybody nailed it. Melinda, David, Mr. Freeman – they all rock this movie hard. One unknown actress gave a stunning, if brief, performance in her role as The Lunchlady Who Puts Mashed Potatoes on the Plate. Yes, folks, that was me. Watch quickly. I’m on camera for almost a full second. Kristen Stewart, the actress who plays Melinda, had the most difficult job – showing a character’s emotions without speaking much. It is fun to read her opinion of the process in this interview.

I don’t want to go into details about my favorite parts of the movie before you guys have seen it. I’ll try to remember to talk about that on Tuesday.

Several reviewers have already commented on the film. Jonathan Storm is a national TV critic based in Philly, yo, and he sure liked it. Other reviews and interviews are here, here, here, and here (I’m interviewed a little in this one). Showtime has several pages of background material and photos. Oh, and Entertainment Weekly picked the movie as a Must Watch for this week – they gave it a B+

I’ve had notes from readers and teachers who are holding SPEAK movie parties – I know a couple of my kids at college are doing the same. Please send photos of your party I can post here!! Are any of you LJ readers having a party?

What else do you guys want to know?

added later… I’ll give you my menu suggestions for a SPEAK party tomorrow.

My chosen ways to help

Ghastly day yesterday. I must find a way to deal with my feelings about the suffering caused by the hurricane and the inept, inadequate response to it. After 9/11, I fell into a depressed funk and spent a month staring at the walls and listening to Mozart. I’m not going to let that happen this time.

So, in my first-cup-of-coffee enthusiasm, let me share with you the charities our family is contributing to. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

Red Cross – the grandmother of disaster relief.

Second Harvest – experts on feeding the hungry.

Louisiana Library Association – accepting donations to rebuild school and public libraries in the affected areas of Louisiana. (See the box in the left column.)

CALCASA’s Hurricane Relief Fund – to aid sexual assault victims and the crisis centers that serve them in the affected region. CALCASA is the coalition of sexual assault crisis centers in California and they do great work. When I needed to find an expert ASAP to participate at a news conference when SPEAK was screened to the TV journalists of the world, CALCASA helped out. They are preparing a new PR campaign that promotes the definition of a “real man” as a guy who respects and honors women instead of hurting them.

Before you give anywhere, check out your charity at the Charity Navigator to make sure your money is going to help the needy and not line the pocket of a scumbag.

This is going to be a busy week. The SPEAK premiere is Monday. I’ll post a couple of things about that tomorrow. BH and I leave later in the week for Florida. We are moving my parents from there up to Mexico, NY, near us. Oh, yeah, that’s going to be an adventure.

September resolutions

Short entry today… gotta hop on the WIP.

If you are reeling from all the hurricane coverage and want a different perspective on a similar disaster, read Isaac’s Storm, by Eric Larson. Incredibly well-researched and written. I am a huge fan of Larson’s.

The start of the school year always feels like New Year’s to me. I think I am going to work on new resolutions today. I’ll post them later.

What are your resolutions for this school year?

added later…

I’ve been thinking about my resolutions all day. I have to say, I’m pretty darn happy where my life is right now. In fact, there is only one thing lacking, something that is fun, provides me with spiritual solace, makes me a nicer person, and is very important to my job. So here is my resolution:

1. I will read more books.