Thursday, June 15, 2006

Keep your Sunny side up

Today is Helen Hunt's 43rd birthday.

Not that this is of great moment to anyone except Ms. Hunt and those close to her, which I am not. I can't honestly even say that I'm a huge fan of her work, even though I can recall the days when she was a budding child star and folks in certain quarters were touting her as a sort of poor man's Jodie Foster, whom Helen somewhat resembles.

The occasion of Ms. Hunt's birthday does, however, bring to mind one of those only-in-Hollywood stories.

Back in the 1990s — you remember the '90s, right? the No Style Decade? of course you do — Helen Hunt crossed paths with one of my favorite novelists, Robert B. Parker. (For the uninitiated, Parker writes the perennially best-selling Spenser mystery novels, on which the '80s TV series Spenser: For Hire and its offshoot TV movies were based. He's also responsible for the Jesse Stone novels, which CBS has adapted into a string of popular telefilms starring Tom Selleck.) I'm not privy to all of the circumstances, but it appears that Helen is a fan of Bob's work, and Bob of Helen's, and the two of them expressed a common interest in working on a movie project together.

As the story goes, Bob agreed to create a new female protagonist in the general mold of Spenser, specifically so that Helen could buy the film rights and star as the new character. The character Parker came up with was a private investigator named Sonya "Sunny" Randall, who just happened to be blonde, thirty-something, slightly built, and reasonably attractive, not unlike a certain actress bearing the initials H.H. Like Spenser, Sunny plies her detecting trade in Boston, where she interacts between clues with her supporting cast: ex-husband Richie, whose family is comprised of gangsters; best friend Spike, a muscular gay man who's handy with firearms; and dog Rosie, a bull terrier. (Parker is fond of dogs. His protagonists almost always own one.)

Parker's first Sunny Randall novel, Family Honor, made its way to print in 1999. Parker followed it with (so far) three additional Sunny adventures: Perish Twice (2000), Shrink Rap (2002), and Melancholy Baby (2004). Although the Sunny books appear to sell fairly well, and have been positively reviewed for the most part, to date there hasn't been a Sunny Randall film or television vehicle, starring Helen Hunt or anyone else. With Ms. Hunt graduating into her mid-40s — right about the age at which decent leading-actress roles begin to evaporate in Tinseltown — I'm guessing we never will see her in the role Parker created for her.

Sarah Michelle Gellar might not make a bad alternate choice. Not that anyone asked me.

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2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Janet offered these pearls of wisdom...

I feel like for awhile there Helen Hunt was everywhere and then bam, she was gone.

Then again, the same can be said about Sarah Michelle Gellar these days too, no?

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Tom Galloway offered these pearls of wisdom...

Happened to wander by a Borders in an airport yesterday, and on the new releases table was "Blue Screen" by Parker. Looking at the dust jacket cover, seems Sunny is investigating something in Jesse Stone's town with the two of them having significant interaction (as opposed to some past Parker books where characters from his current three series pop in for a paragraph or three in another series).

3:22 PM  

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