Montclair author Pamela Redmond Satran recently had her novel, Younger, chosen by Sex and The City creator Darren Star, to develop into an original television series for the cable network TV Land.
Deadline Hollywood and the New York Daily News’ Page Six both covered the news, with Deadline Hollywood calling the show’s development “a top priority for TV Land” a network which has current comedy hits with Hot in Cleveland and The Exes.
Younger (the book), published in 2005, follows the escapades of a newly single 40-something New Jersey woman who undergoes a makeover, lops two decades off her age, creates a new resume, and then moves to Manhattan, landing an entry level job in publishing — and the younger, single, crazy dating life that goes along with it.
Baristanet caught up with her to get all the details.
Baristanet: Has it been fun seeing all the publicity this has gotten?
Satran: The day I got the call, I had an incredibly amazing day. I finished a novel I’d been working on for a long time and I heard about the TV deal the same day. It’s definitely fun, especially the Page Six thing – that made it feel real. And the news was picked up in thousands of media outlets all around the world, which blew me away. And they all mentioned me and the book!
Baristanet: Since the book was published in 2005, has the possibility of a television series been in the works for a while?
Satran: The book sold nicely but was not a bestseller, but it has been optioned almost since the beginning. It was first optioned by ABC Television, and by others. Then those options expired and Darren Star picked it up the day after it last expired. This was about a year ago, and he took what’s called a “shopping agreement” – it’s less serious than an option, but he wanted to first see if he could put a deal together. A year went by and about a month ago, maybe less, I heard from my agent that Star wanted a formal option. Then it moved forward very quickly.
Baristanet: And now I bet some folks probably assume you’ve made oodles of money right?
Satran: Ha! I’m not a writer that someone like Darren Star — who is a huge hit maker– has to bow and scrape to and offer big money in order to get me to give him the option. Don’t ask me to borrow money because I still don’t have any. I did get paid, but maybe around the amount I used to get paid for a magazine article. The way it works with TV options is that if they make the pilot, then you get another chunk of money, and if they make the show, then you get some other money, and if it stays on, you get some money for each episode.
If you’re lucky (and I hope that I am), and you have the right kind of contract and it’s a big hit – like Sex and the City – then you will make really good money. But anything can happen.
Baristanet: How far along is the development of the series?
Satran: The funny thing is, what’s actually happening is always kind of up for grabs. Yes, this big announcement now makes it more real, but it’s less real than having a show actually running, or a show that’s running and is a hit. Many shows never make it past the pilot stage. It still feels less than real to me.
Baristanet: When you were writing Younger, did you ever think, “This could be a TV series”?
Satran: You’d have to be an idiot not to realize from the very beginning that this particular book could theoretically be a good TV idea. When writing, I realized this was the kind of character that an actress in her 40s who is not getting the roles she deserves – like Alice, the character in the book who is not getting the life she deserves — could really step up and make a lot out of it.
Baristanet: Do you have a wish list for the actress?
Satran: I really don’t. I hope the actor chosen is somebody with a lot of soul. I was looking at a list of actresses who turned 40 recently; there are several who could pull this off. Darren Star has written some great parts for women, so I have faith.
Baristanet: What about the rest of the show, might you have a say in the script or any other facet?
Satran: The writer is always the last to know! How I feel about it (being involved) has very little to do with what’s actually possible. Oh, maybe if I was a 23-year-old bestselling novelist, I might have the power to ask for, or even theoretically demand, some kind of a role in exchange for an option. I’m just happy it’s going forward.
Baristanet: So what happens next?
Satran: I honestly don’t know. My agent was on vacation and I’ve been away, and it’s August and lots of people involved are also away. The articles say the series is “fast tracked” but I don’t know really what that means. This is not me being coy; I just don’t know, and if I did, I’d say so.
Baristanet: Were there any parts of the book that you found yourself wishing to try out? Ever fantasize about posing as two decades younger?
Satran: I never thought for a minute that I could personally pull that off, but I have friends in their early 40s, who definitely could pass for someone in her 20s. I guess it would be fun to be taken as someone younger. But you know, something that was particularly horrifying to me when I was writing, was that Alice’s boss was a woman in her 30s and not a nice boss, and she treats Alice like she’s clueless. So, while we tend to idealize the opportunities young people have because they are more energetic or maybe more desirable in the workplace, I realized they have to put up with a lot of crap too.
Baristanet: Has the news about Younger the TV show boosted sales of the book?
Satran: I think it’s too soon. If the series actually gets made I’m sure the publisher will reissue it. Then the branding that comes from the TV show can really help book sales. We live in an age when TV or movies can really vault a piece of writing to a different level that is difficult for that piece of writing to achieve on its own.
Baristanet: What are you working on now?
Satran: I just finished a more literary historical novel called The Great Beyond, which takes place in the Adirondacks in 1916. I can safely say that Darren Star will never make a TV show from it! But I’m also working on developing another novel idea that’s high concept – like Younger — and I’ve been thinking about the story in a cinematic way. That may be another optionable project.