**Giveaway is now closed**
We invited Josie Brown to participate in ICLM this year because she is so in touch with her readers and enthusiastic about supporting other authors and chick lit in general. She is also one of the nicest authors we know. (The chick lit world is full of nice authors, but Josie definitely stands out in this respect.) Her novels are fun, entertaining and full of sex and scandal. Reading the Totlandia series is like watching Desperate Housewives all over again, but even juicier! You never know who will get stabbed in the back next! (Not literally, but now I hear the song “The Backstabbers” playing in the background.)
When I think of the Totlandia series, an even more relevant song comes immediately comes to mind…“Harper Valley PTA.” The song is about a girl’s mother who gets a letter from the PTA that is all judgmental of her style and the way she goes about life. She confronts them and calls them on the little secrets she knows about each person in the group. This is because the women in the Pacific Heights Moms and Tots Club are SO judgmental of each other, not realizing that they could easily be judged in turn. Josie Brown not only knows how to write each character to be sympathetic and/or despised, but she also knows who the best actor or actress would be to play them in a movie version of Totlandia.
Totlandia, the Movie
By Josie Brown
I’ve truly enjoyed the characters I’ve created in my TOTLANDIA series. And like most authors, it’s always fun to imagine Hollywood enthralled by them, too.
As luck would have it, Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer enjoyed one of my stories – Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives – enough to bring it to television. (We’re waiting now to hear if it will be on the fall schedule, or if it will be held as a mid-season replacement.) The pilot episode has been shot, and I loved the actors they chose to bring the book to life.
But of course, it would be play casting director for one of my own books!
So, who would I cast in Totlandia, a serialized story about mothers of one-year-olds who are willing to jump through hoops in order to attain membership in the exclusive Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club?
Here are my choices….
Bettina Connaught Cross, the club’s meanest mommy and founder, has to be played by someone is looks sweet and elegant and proper, but can show a cruel streak. She enjoys watching others jump through hoops and rules with a iron (albeit well-manicured) fist. The club’s unwritten policy excludes working and divorced mothers, since they can’t (in Bettina’s words) “make a full commitment” to the club. To play her, my vote goes to Jennifer Garner, an actress who proved her range in the film (based on another book) Butter.
Bettina’s sister-in-law, Lorna Connaught, wants only the best for her child, and views entrée into the club the heads-up her son, Dante, needs to counter what she assumes is his natural shyness. Unfortunately for Lorna, she’s already a major handicap: Bettina views her as competition for the affections of Eleanor Morrow Connaught, Bettina’s mother and the family matriarch who controls the family’s immense financial trusts.
The actress who plays Lorna has to project an inner strength. But stoic vulnerability is paramount, since her unorthodox background is not a desirable one in the eyes of her socialite in-laws. To top it off, throughout the series she will go through some heartache dealing with Dante’s health and wellbeing. I’d love to see Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery play her.
One character who resonates greatly with readers is Jillian Frederick, a mother of twin girls whose husband walks out on her the day she is invited into the club, in order to move in with his assistant, who also happens to be pregnant with his child, the son he always wanted. Poor Jill! Besides dropping out of college in order to pay for his education, she’s made it her mission to create the perfect home for him, renovating their Pacific Heights Victorian townhouse from top to bottom. She also bakes desserts to die for, including her signature pies. But he ties up their money during their separation, and pulls some odious legal stunts to keep from paying child support. Like Totlandia’s readers, viewers have to feel her pain. At the same time, her scenes are some of the most humorous ones in the series, as she keeps her tries to keep her pending divorce from Bettina. The right actress has to be a good comedienne, too. My choice is Kate Hudson. She impressed me to no end in her films, Almost Famous and 200 Cigarettes.
Ideally, Ryan Gosling would play Brady Pierce, a high tech entrepreneur who cashed out in order to be a full-time dad to his son, Oliver. Ryan’s piercing blue eyes and cut-throat take-no-prisoners demeanor is perfect for Brady, who will do anything (and do anyone) to get his son accepted in to PHM&T. What he doesn’t count on is the ironclad rule that children must attend with their mothers.
But he annulled his marriage to 22-year-old Jade, his ex-pole dancer wife, after she left a very sick Oliver with her agent when to audition for a porn film. Since then, Jade has been desperate to put her youthful indiscretions behind her and get back into Oliver and Brady’s lives. I can’t imagine a better actress to play her than Emma Stone, who lit up the screen as Gosling’s love interest in Crazy, Stupid Love. (I wrote down my thoughts on the movie, here.)
I could easily see Rachel McAdams as Ally Thornton, a woman who just sold her company in order to be a full-time mom to her daughter, Zoe. Ally is still on payroll to the corporation that bought her out, and this is a very big no-no, as far as Bettina is concerned. Another strike against Ally is that she is a single mother who used a sperm donor to get pregnant: her gay best friend and attorney, Barry Simon.
McAdams has wonderfully kind eyes, a great smile, and that mournful catch in her throat that lets you know she has a good soul. Considering that Ally’s friendship to Jade is tested by the mutual attraction she shares with Brady, you have to have someone in this role who keeps the audience on her side and empathetic to her dilemma—not to mention the chemistry between McAdams and Gosling would be awesome, as we all remember in the film adaptation of The Notebook (pass me a hanky, please……)
If you’ve read any of the Totlandia books, let me know what you think of my choices. If you were the director, who would you cast?
Thanks to Josie for sharing her casting choices with us. She has a special giveaway for a lucky reader anywhere in the world: A e-book combo of Totlandia books one and two!
How to win:
Tell us your favorite movie about children. (Or that features them in a primary role.)
Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win.
Giveaway ends May 16th at midnight EST.