Behind the movie being made featuring Bill Granger's November Man | Bleader

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Behind the movie being made featuring Bill Granger's November Man

Posted By on 09.11.13 at 10:56 AM

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A few weeks ago I wrote in the Bleader with some good news—Pierce Brosnan was bringing Bill Granger to the screen. Granger, who died last year, had been my friend and colleague at the Sun-Times. When he turned to writing books he hit the ground running with The November Man, which introduced a secret agent, Devereaux—aka the November Man—who proved so compelling a protagonist (cold, laconic, brutal) that Granger brought him back for another dozen novels.

"I just want to thank Mr.Granger for the best series nobody here ever heard of," says a reader on Amazon.

For too long a time that "nobody" seemed to include Hollywood, though a couple of options were taken out and allowed to lapse. When I found out that Brosnan was in Serbia actually filming There Are No Spies (in which Devereaux comes out of retirement to hunt a Soviet mole), I got in touch with Granger's agent, the Aaron Priest Literary Agency, to find out more, and this inquiry led to a couple of recent e-mails from Brosnan's producer, Beau St. Clair.

"In 2005, after Matador, (a hit man movie we produced) Pierce and I decided to revisit the espionage genre, looking for something that was dark, smart and edgy," St. Clair wrote. "Granger's writing, and the character of Devereaux, became the reason to jump back in after Bond. Our screenwriters did an amazing adaptation, but the book was our foundation and I think it is important to tell that part of our story. Right now, we are just starting post production, but the movie is feeling really good."

I asked for more specifics. What led them to Granger?

"The books were mentioned to me by an old time producer I had been working with called Dino Conte," St. Clair explained. "He felt they would be great for Pierce. The books are not that well known, but Nikki Finke wrote a story and said they were one of the 10 great unmade espionage series ever written. So some people in Hollywood know, I guess.

"I read all the November Man books and hired a researcher to break down all the books into synopsis, characters, themes, etc.—an exhausting year or more. Then I brought on a great feature writer named Mike Finch, who brought on Karl Gajdusek. Both these guys are huge now, but at that point—2007, 2008—just brilliant but not big. Both Yale grads and extremely smart. It took another 9 months to beat out a story. I picked There Are No Spies because organically it works on 2 levels. Devereaux goes back into the spy world, older and having already done the gig, same as Pierce. The other add-on was making the piece into a two-hander with Mason which gives the story its spine."

Mason, I read here, is a "former pupil" Devereaux is pitted against "in a race to find a woman hiding from her past . . . who holds the key to an international conspiracy." Mason gives the movie a spine Granger didn't give the book; and for that matter, the movie gives Devereaux a first name (Peter), something Granger saw no need for. If the film works, these will be trifling details.

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