The only tie-in to the Columbia Pictures film starring Sean Connery, directed by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting)--an inspiring story about the unlikely friendship between a famous, reclusive novelist and an amazingly gifted teen who secretly yearns to be a writer. Set in Manhattan and the South Bronx, William Forrester (Connery), a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who has not been heard from for four decades, accidentally discovers that Jamal, a brash 16-year-old African-American who plays basketball on the court below his window, keeps a secret journal that shows a real gift for writing. Forrester takes Jamal on as a prot�g�, and the friendship challenges and changes the two of them forever. Written by an accomplished novelist, based on an award-winning screenplay, this story yearns to be a novel as well as a movie. The inspiration came from an interview conducted by the screenwriter, former radio news director Mike Rich: "I was doing an interview with someone about America's greatest authors, and I noticed that so many of them, Salinger or Pynchon, for example, seemed to be eccentric, reclusive types. I thought a story that showed how someone helped a great writer break through that barrier of isolation and re-enter the world would make a terrific story, especially if that person were a teenager who is also in some way gifted." Rich's screenplay became one of five finalists out of 4,500 entries to win the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl writing award for new screenwriters. Other actors in Finding Forrester include F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin, Busta Phymes, Zane Copeland, James "Fly" Williams III, Michael Nouri, and, in hisfirst acting role, Rob Brown, a 15-year-old student at Poly Prep High School in Brooklyn, New York.
This rather workmanlike novelization of the award-winning Mike Rich screenplay for the current Academy Award- hyped Sean Connery flick was penned by the author of other novels based on the screenplays of Immortal Beloved, Rudy and A Bronx Tale (plus seven original novels, including the award-winning I'm Owen Harrison Harding, and a lengthy list of nonfiction titles). In order to be one of the guys, Jamal Wallace, a fatherless 16-year-old South Bronx African-American basketball phenom, has been keeping his literary ambitions under heavy wraps. Curious about the regular visits of a well-dressed courier in a fancy car to a shadowy figure living in a tenement across from the basketball court, on a dare Jamal climbs in a window to investigate, only to leave his backpack after he is scared into a hasty retreat. When the backpack is tossed back to him a few days later, he finds the writing in his notebooks has been edited. Jamal confronts the recluse and soon discovers he is the legendary 70-year-old William Forrester, who vanished after winning a Pulitzer for his only novel, written while he was still in his 20s. Now mentored by Forrester, Jamal is recruited by a snobby Manhattan prep school for his high SAT scores and basketball moves. Befriended by the pretty daughter of a WASP millionaire, he is riding high when a teacher who failed as a novelist accuses him of plagiarism and his friends desert him. Already a Scholastic Book Club selection, this warmhearted--however clich�d and Horatio Algeresque--fable bridges that nebulous and indefinable no-man's-land between YA readers and their parents.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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December 24, 2000
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