Word from Hollywood is that former Baltimore Sun and Washington Post movie critic Stephen Hunter's 1995 novel, "Dirty White Boys," will be the next project for David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the pair behind HBO's hugely successful "Game of Thrones."
Deadline: Hollywood reports that Benioff and Weiss have made a deal with Fox to write, direct and produce the movie adaptation of Hunter's novel, the story of a trio of violent prison escapees, led by the anti-heroic Lamar Pye, being pursued by a dogged state trooper. Fox bought the rights to Hunter's novel shortly after it was published. (You can read the Deadline: Hollywood story here.)
"As Hollywood politics it's great to see my story in the hands of two talented guys with juice, and to know that it's their only chance to make a first movie," Hunter tells The Sun. "But more importantly, what their background and success suggests is that we share a common value: we LOVE story. We think story is everything. We think story is what makes man human."
This marks the first project Benioff and Weiss have made a deal to direct together and the first since they started on "Game of Thrones." Hunter has had one previous novel turned into a film; his "Point of Impact" was the source for Antoine Fuqua's 2007 film "Shooter," starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Mara.
"Our friend Scott Frank brought up the opening line of 'Dirty White Boys,'" Benioff told Deadline: Hollywood. "To be honest, I’d never hear of the book before, even though we’d heard of Stephen Hunter’s sniper series. Scott mentioned that opening line from 'Dirty White Boys,' and it made me go out and buy the book, and Dan bought the book, and then we got past that first line and just fell in love with it."
Added Weiss: "It does grab you, the first line, and what keeps you is that the characters are so well drawn, really charismatic and awful people, so flawed. I don’t think you’ll be able to print the first line, because it’s got prison-soaked racism and is just really out there."
(And no, we won't be printing the opening line here. But trust us, it sets quite the tone.)
Waiting 19 years for news on having your book turned into a movie is not all that unusual, Hunter said, and he never gave up on the idea of having "Dirty White Boys" brought to the screen.
"It's not that I'd given up," he said. "It's that in my business you have to look ahead and not dwell on past projects. I always thought that DWB had a pitch-perfect movie plot and vivid characters and a unique tone and location, but...you just get over your disappointments and go on, or you're dead. Right now my concerns are with the book I'm publishing May 20 -- "Sniper's Honor" -- and the book I'm working on for next year, on Jack the Ripper."
No word on when to expect a film version of "Dirty White Boys." "Game of Thrones" recently started its fourth season on HBO and has been renewed for seasons five and six. That leaves Benioff and Weiss with a pretty full dinner plate for the next couple of years; Weiss told Deadline: Hollywood that they have yet to write anything.
"No, the straight answer is, not yet," he said. "But it's ours."
Hunter, who worked as a copy editor at The Sun before becoming its film critic, eventually moved to The Washington Post, where he would win a Pulitizer Prize (only the second given for film criticism) before retiring in 2008. He is married to Baltimore Sun columnist and reporter Jean Marbella and continues to write from his home in Baltimore.
"As it's worked out, I should have believed the lesson a movie from the past preached," Hunter ob served. "'If you build it, they will come.'"