Kristen Buckley is a woman of many talents and charms. Not only is she the author of the fabulous non-ChickLit The Parker Grey Show, but she also managed not to kill her husband (nor he, her) while together writing the Kate Hudson-Matthew McConaughey movie, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Her website gives up fascinating tidbits, like her battle with plantar warts, her longtime affair with her guitar and holding Leonardo DiCaprio’s cigarette. She’s survived New York, LA and writing for Disney. Now, Kristen tackles our 20 or so questions.
1. There’s a rumor that most writers pull from life experience. If this is true, and the events in The Parker Grey Show are culled from real life, how large was the TV, how crisp the picture, what was the brand and what would be, just out of curiosity, the most efficient method of freeing it from the wall?
Well, like I tell my mother. It’s FICTION, I swear! But let’s just say life were to imitate art… I would have to say the following: 60 inches; iceberg lettuce; Sony of course; shoe horn in conjunction with a butter knife.
2. In the book, Parker consoles a friend distraught over the fate of Nikita and Michael on La Femme Nikita. Were you actually a Nikita/Michael shipper, or a thinly-veiled Buffy/Angel girl? Or are we to believe that was actually a “friend’s” experience? Because we have “friends” like that, too.
Never watched Buffy. SMG’s nostrils have always been a distraction to me. I resisted LFN, the show, for a long time. But then I got sucked in and suddenly, much to my own chagrin, I was worshipping (and defending) Roy Dupuis’ mullet.
Right. Michelle is oddly, and against her better judgment, enthralled by the mullet as well (Honestly, no one with that hair should be able to wear mission pants like that. And yet, he does.), but we noticed you sidestepped the question. We’re going to assume, unless you correct us, that you were the one sobbing over the egg sandwich.
Yeah, it was me. I’m still not completely over it. Last Christmas, I tried to relive the magic during the Oxygen Channel’s LFN marathon, but it only made me more depressed. Even the mere mention of “mission pants” fills me with remorse.
3. How do you feel having your writing characterized as “ChickLit”? Even though we’re not entirely sure it is ChickLit, as the definition of ChickLit clearly states that the sassy, lost-in-the-big-sea-of-life-and-love heroine must have a sassy, grounded, wise, gay best friend, and your book clearly lacks that. So since it has, by definition, been ruled out of “ChickLit,” how would you classify your novel? (Feel free to make up a new word/classification.) And doesn’t “ChickLit” sound a little like an anagram of something a bit naughty?
Actually, I never thought it was ChickLit – I thought it was Anti-ChickLit but I got lumped in ChickLit, only it’s not ChickLit, so the whole thing has been confusing to me.
4. In my review, I said that the ending to Parker Grey was a bit Mary Sue. Did you have an alternate ending planned (like maybe one where the famous actor thought that the strange chick obsessively watching his show over and over, covering up the actress on the screen, and stealing expensive electronics from neighbors was creepy rather than, er, cute)?
Yeah, I went soft with it. Parker really needed to get laid.
5.Did you have a friend like Lil? Did you just want to smack her?
My sister has a friend like Lil, who probably wants to smack me because I constantly appropriate her life.
6.The Parker Grey Show has been highly acclaimed all over the place, and recommended by everyone, including us, the bitter twins! Do you smile smugly at your mom now over Thanksgiving dinner? Do you clip out articles that praise you and send them to her with little notes like “Ha ha” and “Bite me”?
Oh. If. Only. My mom’s pleased with the book, although she says things like, “I never cried in the garage” to which I reply “It’s FICTION!” But the big thing is that she wants me to write something for Emma Thompson. I hear about this all the time. She’ll actually call me and say, “So, what’s going on with Emma Thompson?” I’ve started making stuff up, “She’s great, just bought a new car…” just to shut her up.
7. Since your mother seems so easily pulled into the story, and The Parker Grey Show seems to have quite a few elements that could be construed as autobiographical – though we know it’s FICTION – did you have any difficulty writing Parker “true to life” (in those instances when her feelings did match your own), knowing that your friends and family would one day read them, and even though it wasn’t really about them they would assume it was about them? Were you overcome with the urge to change Parker’s emotions, just a little, to keep your own feelings private, even if they weren’t your feelings, they were Parker’s but your mother would assume they were yours? And were you worried that some guy would hunt you down and accuse you of freeing his plasma screen from the wall, even though you were clearly innocent?
As all my friends and family know, anything they do or say can and will be used as fodder for my writing. That said, I wrote Parker Grey Show as a diversion and had no expectations about selling publishing rights or film rights, so when they did sell, I had a moment where I went holy shit – mostly because of Goran.
But writing in general is always a strange thing because you have to reveal parts of yourself within your characters and people think that’s you or that’s how you feel. For instance, there’s a lot of me in Lil, but because I have curly hair and so does Parker, they assume her every thought is mine, which it isn’t. I guess I also feel a kinship with all of my characters for different reasons. There are parts of me in all of them, and there are parts of them that are entirely their own. As for being hunted down, I am a little nervous about showing my face at the White Horse Tavern – other than that, I’m okay.
8. Goran Visnjic – how does he feel about the book? And did you have any ER fan fic to show, I mean hide from, him?
Goran. Goran. Goran… Sigh. We had lunch. We both ate risotto. I might add that our agents sent us to the WORST fucking restaurant. It was all starched table clothes and formal service. Horrible. But I digress… He drank coffee and Coke. I had water. He spoke of his love of Battlestar Gallactica and 2001: A Space Odyssey (he’s read the book 20 times) and then he told me about how he spent his free time playing online games with his friend in London. He wonder[s] why Baron von Munchausen was not a bigger box office success.
He said, “You captured me so perfectly in your book” and I thought, “I think I missed the boat entirely.” Then I thought, hmm, in the second book, Parker is annoyed by his nerd proclivities and I urged him to continue. I would also like to mention on the metrosexual note that Brian had to re-dress me for my lunch. He nixed the Michael Stars T in favor of a halter top. Saucy. But I don’t think Goran noticed.
But how hot did he look during lunch?
So damn hot. It was just stupid. Although he could have his lower teeth fixed.
9. I noticed that Parker had a fairly fabulous living space. Having been to NY, and having stayed for weeks at a time with many friends who pay quite a bit of money to live in an apartment the size of my broom closet, do you ever feel guilty about going the Friends route of disinformation and perpetuating the NY lie? I mean, thousands of young hopefuls moving to NY, just knowing they’re going to find a fabulous, huge, clean, cockroach-free living space, their eyes shining in anticipation, only to have their dreams dashed when they have to pay $500 a month to sleep on someone’s kitchen floor – don’t you feel the teeniest bit bad about that?
It’s one of those things, where if you lived in the city (studio apartment, roaches AND rats, crazy neighbor with a dead dog) you can perpetuate the myth. If I had grown up in LA or somewhere else, then you could bitch slap me, but I did my time.
So what you’re saying is, if you had to go through it, so do all those starry-eyed little bitches?
Nicely put. Yes.
10. Since you moved from screenwriting to novel writing in order to have more control over your writing, how do you feel about selling the film rights to The Parker Grey Show?
Sold the rights. Slept like a baby. And actually it’s an option, so in 18 months I can refuse to sell the rights fully and then I get it back from New Line.
11. Will you write the screenplay and if not, how will you feel about your work being changed by someone else? And once it begins being filmed, will you have to stab the director in the eye if he decides his artistic vision includes playdough instead of origami paper, or that Lil should be a gay man?
Already wrote the screenplay and Trudy/Caroline were merged into Vaughn (You guessed it, the gay pal!). Kate Hudson is attached to star. We’ll see on that one. The studio did make us change Lil’s obsession with Elvis to an obsession with Barbie. They said, “Elvis doesn’t play on film” whatever that means. I’m still not sure how I feel about it.
Barbie? The hell?
In keeping with Lil’s character, we went with the Barbie as “Misunderstood Icon” route. Lil does a lot of spouting about Barbie as a parody of our materialistic pursuits. And we didn’t use Slutty Barbie, but we made sure Lil had a boxed Barbie Loves Elvis double doll set. That was more of an FU to the studio for making us change the Elvis thing.
12. The flash animation for www.theparkergreyshow.com is way cool. Was that your idea? Did you mean for it to make the book sound like a suspense thriller or is that my own freakish interpretation?
When I designed the site, I was working on the movie adaptation for Parker Grey. The film version is much more of a suspense thriller. In the book, Parker’s fantasy life is very internal, but for the film we wrote it so that the audience will see what Parker’s thinking and imagining as if it were really happening. So, to answer your question, the web site was more a reflection of what the movie is going to be in terms of tone and vibe.
Suspense thriller? Really? How does that work? And is the bus still involved?
The way we wrote it, the movie moves in and out of what we call “show mode.” It’s sort of a Walter Mitty thing. When Parker has to do anything scary, like meet kidnappers or get money, etc., she imagines she is Nikita, and when she imagines she is Nikita the entire look of the film changes to reflect what she is seeing in her mind. The movie then moves back and forth from reality to super cool spy chick hyper reality.
13. In the bio on your site, you touch briefly on your battle with warts. So, how goes it with the warts situation? All gone from your feet? Have you tried martial arts as an adult or is that just a faded dream, forever lurking at the edge of your consciousness?
The warts were a brutal plague on my life. They were finally defeated during my senior year in the month-long grudge match I like to refer to as Chicken Pox v. Planters Warts. Suffice to say, Pox kicked Warts ass and I’ve got the scars to prove it. As for Karate – I’m over it. At a certain point getting kicked around by sweaty, middle aged men begins to lose its allure. And on a fashion note, for all you martial artists: Nothing screams LOSER like the guy walking down the street in his Karate uniform. That’s why they have changing rooms at the dojo – use them.
14. Was the car you borrowed from your parents a stick shift? And when you borrowed it did you curse them for not buying an automatic as you slowly made your way, jerking and stalling, blocking intersections and burning out the clutch? Or was it just me then?
Actually, it was the biggest damn Cadillac ever made. It was like driving a boat, and I was constantly side-scraping trees and tunnels. My friends would ride with me and cower in the backseat like pansies.
15.Was How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days written/pitched as a screenplay or was it mostly a journal of your courtship with Brian?
Robert Evans called us and said, “You’re a couple. You’re funny. Can you write us a battle-of-the-sexes comedy?” We thought wow, Bob Evans, legend… We called him back for a meeting but then he had a stroke, then he married Catherine Oxenberg, then I saw Catherine in the food store canoodling with Casper Van Dien, then Bob and Catherine got divorced, and THEN he called us back and we said “Okay.”
16.You named a character Andy Anderson? The hell?
You have no idea.
17. Did you and your husband have a vicious battle-of-the-sexes and you were all “You know, make you Matthew McConaughey and me, oh, I don’t know, someone like Kate Hudson, and this would be totally funny. As it is, you are no Matthew, so get your ass in there and water that fern!”? Who committed the cardinal “not to do”s in the relationship?
Bri would never be Matthew McConaughey because MM is far too low waisted to play him (Seriously, if MM bends at the waist he’s in danger of hitting his head on the ground). He’s more Clooney than MM. There may have been some stalking on my part early on, umm…. and a few restaurant crying jags, but I’ve never been a big plant person. As for Bri, he’s way Clooney in that I’d be on the corner sobbing and he’d just hail a cab and say, “We really need to get going.”
18. You were a screenwriter for 102 Dalmations? Really? How was that? Or, should we just infer how it was from the fact that it’s missing from your list of achievements on your site?
Okay, here’s how this one works: Disney calls and says “We’re going to pay you a lot of money to write something but we’re not going to tell you what it is…” Our apartment was cramped and small. I said to Bri, “Is this an offer we can’t refuse?” He said, “Yes.” Then, a year later we woke up in a bigger house with a proverbial decapitated horse head in the bed.
Basically I sold my soul for square footage. You all would have done the same.
Hell yeah. Any insight on how we can get in on action like that?
I still wake up and wonder how it all happened.
19. I’m a technical writer who would like to instead write novels as to have more control over my writing. Did you write your novel at the same time you were writing for The Man or did you manage to actually budget well so that you could concentrate exclusively on writing your novel? If the latter, how exactly? Budgeting just seems really hard. Any tips?
There is no budgeting in my world. There is only multitasking. All novel writing occurs at night, after kiddies go to bed. The DREAM is to be able to work exclusively on novels for any amount of time during the day. Although, I did try the old Eye of the Tiger/Rocky bullshit for a while, and was getting up at 4:30 in the morning, but that lasted about a week and I said screw this. So [now] I pound green tea to make the 9-11 writing run.
What book are you working on now between 9 and 11?
I’m working on another novel, about a girl who gets stalked by her alter ego. It’s a bit darker than Parker Grey. But the love interest – who doesn’t play a huge role in the story – because I am of the ilk that the point is NOT to get the guy (and this is where I veer off the ChickLit map I suppose), the point is to find yourself, since at their best, guys are just icing on the cake (of life).
That said, the quasi-important, but not all-encompassing, love interest is based on my current obsession with Derek Jeter (who I think is hot, but only when he wears his uniform, and on a related note, I often wonder if DJ became a baseball player simply because his oddly misshapen head looks so damn good in a baseball cap). Hopefully, after I publish the book, I can have lunch with Derek, get to the bottom of things and follow up with you guys!
20. Dramarama, which you co-wrote with Brian, is currently in production. Do you guys get to lie around in bed together with your laptops and write all day? Because, how cool would that be? As long as you had a robot butler to bring you coffee. Do you have a robot butler?
It’s far less glamorous than the Kurt/Courtney scenario you suggest. We sit at a desk. We drink lots of water and we break at eleven for a nutritional snack – usually string cheese and nuts. If we’re in bed, it’s only for a quickie to avoid working.
21. This movie is a musical comedy. Did you get to write any of the songs and take advantage of all that time you had to spend with your overrated step-cousin?
We have not written a single song. I didn’t even bring up the old musical background nor did I mention the horribly overrated former step-cousin lest someone at Warner Bros might get the bright idea to have me call that loser up. God, I hate him.
22. You are obviously a big internet geek like we are. You read journals and blogs. Have you thought of keeping one of your own, like Neil Gaiman and Wil Wheaton do? Or do you have one under an alias so the Internet freaks don’t find you? As an internet geek, do you seek out discussion boards where people are talking about your work, or do you steer clear of them?
I’ve never really considered myself an internet geek, but now that you mention it, perhaps I am. As for my own blog, it’s going to go up in February. My fabulous friend Jen Chung (of Gothamist fame) is working it all out for me and it will (quite shamelessly) be called THE KRISTEN BUCKLEY SHOW. I’m looking forward to a forum where I can do a daily vent about LA, life in the film business, and of course I plan to get into the whole Pizarelli feud, and my big Sunday feature is going to be a complete rant/review of the New York Times Style Section which fills me with rage each week.
As for discussion boards, I’ve been known to patrol them, although I never add to them for fear that I’d be traced back and mocked forever. But I will say that a high point for me was seeing that LFN Forever site had reviewed the book. It was really a big day in my world.
23. If you go to them, do you sign in under a false handle and mock those that mock you? Because I so would.
Okay, I once tried to sign in and write something but I kept forgetting my password.
24. Ever try snowboarding, because I did for the first time last night and it kicked my ass.
The closest I’ve come is waterskiing and I fell wrong, got an instant enema (don’t ask) and vowed never again to participate in any sort of sport that involves high speed careening over water or snow.
25. Don’t you think this whole “metrosexual” thing has gone too far? I mean, honestly, when straight men are going to Vegas and checking themselves into spas for a Macho Man Package that consists of facial, manicure, pedicure, massage and sauna time, wouldn’t you say it’s time for someone to put their foot down? And how do you propose I go about this foot putting down?
I live with a raging Metrosexual who, oddly enough, recently went to Vegas and spent time in the spa where he and his friend (thankfully, both wore shorts) spent the day discussing the plethora of “Man Bush” in the sauna. I hate the term “metrosexual” but I am relieved that I can at least put a name to Brian’s disturbing, anal-retentive grooming and maintenance habits. And while I offer no advice on how to stop these lunatics I will say that [having] separate bathrooms is the key. If we shared a bathroom I might risk drowning in his Zihr products.
26. Hash browns or breakfast potatoes? And don’t you think ranch makes both better? Or are you a ketchup girl at heart? And isn’t lime way better for shooting tequila than lemon?
Hash Browns. Ranch does make everything better, and ketchup always has to be on the side because it’s more of an accessory than a food, really.
Lime or lemon? After the famous Chinese Tequila Incident of ’89 (during which I made psychotic drunken calls to old boyfriends and vomited on my mother’s feet), the mere thought of tequila turns my stomach. Although I think lime would probably more refreshing.
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