Man, how I would love to interview best-selling novelist Winston Groom. In the spring of 1994, I was on the road with a two-man WNBC local TV news camera crew. We had to go to an out of-Manhattan street fair or community bake sale or some other outdoor event from which I'd do live segments for the weekend morning news program. On the way back, the cameraman was driving. The audio guy was in the front passenger seat and I sat in the back of the van. The audio guy would break out into an infectious giggle while reading a paperback book. The cameraman and I had to know what he was reading. He told us that he'd been at a garage sale in his neighborhood and he bought a book for a quarter. He didn't know anything about the book but the price was right and he liked to have some reading material for periods of down time during the work day. The book was FORREST GUMP by Winston Groom.
I've been a devoted Tom Hanks fan since his ABC TV sitcom days in the early 80s. I'm in awe of his range and skill. However, while reading the novel, I was curious to see how Hanks would play a big musclebound and seemingly well-endowed idiot savant Southern football player with a crew-cut. I've written in a previous blog that if the movie FORREST GUMP was being cast today, based on his physical description in Winston Groom's book, the top candidate for the role would be John Cena.
His girlfriend, Jenny, is a 1960s free spirit who loves to have sex. With Forrest and men. His mother is a annoying old bat who selfishly clings to him and constantly whines. Although he doesn't do well on scholastic tests, he's a savant who has an astonishing series of adventures. Some of the funny, outrageous complications in Forrest's life cause him to say -- "Bein' an idiot is no box o' chocolates."
In the film, that line was sweetened to "Life is like a box o' chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
If you're interested in screenwriting, read the book. See how the characters were retained yet changed for the film version, a film that became a major money-maker and a top Oscar winner (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay). Compare that to, say, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. That screenplay, based on a short story, masterfully and brilliantly opened up the story while remaining very faithful to the original material and its tone.
There you have it. A summer reading book tip. FORREST GUMP by Winston Groom. If you read it, let me know what you think.