This month’s book is one that is close to me personally on a couple of levels. Admission is the story of a Princeton Admissions officer who hits a midlife crisis (as many women in their 40s do, when we wake up and realize that all we hoped to achieve actually wasn’t promised to us). It was recently made into a movie starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.
While I’ve seen the film, I never read the book, which is odd, because I met its author, Jean Hanff Korelitz, as she was writing it. My daughter was in a short play festival shortly after we moved to New York City, and Jean’s son played her younger brother in this two-hander. While Jean and I would be sitting outside the rehearsal room, we talked about writing and our lives and so on. That’s when she told me about the book that would become Admission. While it sounded interesting, Jean and I really didn’t keep in touch (she lived in New Jersey, plus she was traveling a good bit).
Fast forward four years, and my daughter gets an audition for the film. As soon as I saw the description of the project (also known as a “breakdown” in industry parlance), I realized this was Jean’s book! I was very excited by the thought that my daughter, Nadia Alexander, might be in a film adaptation of a book whose author I knew. I sent off a note to Jean congratulating her, telling her that Nadia was auditioning, and asking her for life updates.
Beyond that, I didn’t put much thought into Nadia being cast. She probably auditions for between 50-70 projects each year, and she books about 10 percent (which, sadly with regards to money, is a really good booking ratio). Thus, the odds were that she either wouldn’t be cast or that her part would be cut from the final film. Happily, she both was cast and only one of her lines was cut. Also, because of how the director placed her in the shot, she got a lot of screen time out of her one scene.
The best part as far as I was concerned was being invited to the Princeton premiere of the film. Nadia had already seen a screening in NYC, but my first (and, as it turns out, only) trip to see the film was a two-hour schlep to Princeton. However, it was well worth it to see Jean again. And, of course, she was signing copies of her book, so I finally picked one up.
At the talk back (the Q&A after a premiere, to which my daughter was graciously invited), Jean mentioned several key changes that were made between her book and the screenplay (which was written by Karen Croner). Thus, between that and the film itself, I’m sure I’ve already discovered most of the spoilers. Nonetheless, Jean did tell me that the part Nadia played originally was much larger in the book, so I get to discover more about that as I read this novel at long last.