Monday, January 21, 2013

A Writer’s Strange Route to Hollywood

Kyle Patrick Alvarez Films ‘C.O.G.,’ by David Sedaris

Jas Shelton
Jonathan Groff and Denis O'Hare in "C.O.G.," directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez.

PARK CITY, Utah — David Sedaris has never allowed Hollywood to get its paws on his writing.

Well, there was one flirtation with film. About a decade ago Mr. Sedaris started work on a movie adaptation of “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” his first best-selling collection of humorous essays. But he quickly halted it after his sister Lisa worried that someone fat would portray her. Since then, he said in a telephone interview from London, “It just became an automatic no.”
How, then, did a 29-year-old director named Kyle Patrick Alvarez, with a tiny budget and only one movie under his belt (a phone sex drama at that), get Mr. Sedaris to let him bring one of his works to the screen?
The answer involves a little of Mr. Alvarez’s pluck in getting his proposal to the author, and a lot of Mr. Sedaris’s quirkiness in deciding to trust him.
Mr. Alvarez, a passionate fan of Mr. Sedaris’s offbeat essays, had long wanted to adapt “C.O.G.,” a fish-out-of-water tale that finds a young Mr. Sedaris working on an apple farm in the Pacific Northwest. The story, which also involves an overly friendly forklift operator with an unusual hobby and a born-again Christian who carves rocks into Oregon-shaped clocks, comes from “Naked,” Mr. Sedaris’s 1997 collection of essays.
“I saw it as dark and funny and a chance to hopefully make something special,” Mr. Alvarez said. “It’s also not about his family, which made me think I had a shot at getting him to say yes.”
But Mr. Alvarez had already been rebuffed by Mr. Sedaris’s agents. So he started to brainstorm.

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