It’s funny how a career can turn on a dime. Mine certainly did back in the late 90s when Hollywood flirted with me for a moment. My book Accidental Empires, which was the basis of my PBS series Triumph of the Nerds, was optioned for a feature film by Lionsgate Films, a script was written and casting was about to begin. Then along came Pirates of Silicon Valley (ironically you can find both rental and pirated versions of the film at the same time on Youtube). The TV movie for TNT was considered such an overlap of my work that the Lionsgate project died overnight.
I have to give credit to the writer and director of the film, Canadian Martyn Burke, for telling the right story at exactly the right time. Most of us remember his film, for one thing, and that’s a testament to any made-for-TV movie 20 years on. Noah Wylie, was especially well cast as Steve Jobs — so well that he later appeared with the real Steve at an Apple corporate event. Real Steve loved the whole thing.
Alas the movie wasn’t based on my book but on A Fire in the Valley, by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine, even though many of the memorable scenes post-dated publication of that very fine book (Swaine is a friend).
Do I sound bitter? Well maybe a little. But that was a long time ago.
Still, I’ve never met Martyn Burke, this guy who so affected my life, truncating my Hollywood lunch experience to a single Cobb salad at The Ivy.
Now I’ve just heard that Martyn Burke has published a new novel, Music For Love or War and will be appearing to promote the book tomorrow night (Tuesday, February 21st) at Books Inc., 74 Town & Country Village in Palo Alto. The fun starts at 7PM and unless the road to my hilltop lair washes out tonight (alas, a real possibility) I’ll be there to shake Martyn’s hand.
Or punch him.