National Post

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Wednesday, October 06, 1999

HBO purchases the rights to book about masculinity crisis
Other portions of the book had already been sold for two separate film projects
Bernard Weinraub
The New York Times

HOLLYWOOD - American television network Home Box Office (HBO) has acquired the rights to the newly published Susan Faludi book, Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, and plans to turn it into a television drama next year.

The book, about what Faludi calls "the American masculinity crisis," was purchased for a "mid-six-figure" sum, people involved in the negotiations said. HBO executives said the cable network hopes to turn the nonfiction book into an anthology of one or perhaps two films dramatizing the stories of some of the men depicted in the book. It was acquired for Robert Greenwald, a well-known television producer-director.

Faludi's 662-page treatise -- some chapters of which have been sold for two other adaptations -- was featured on the Sept. 13 cover of Newsweek. A blend of reporting and cultural analysis, it focuses on a variety of men whose lives seem in crisis and have "lost their compass in the world," the author said.

The men range from unemployed workers at the naval shipyard in Long Beach, Calif., to students at the Citadel, the military school forced to admit its first woman in 1994, to gang members and to teenaged boys in the Spur Posse, the group accused of multiple incidents of sexual assault.

Greenwald, who produced and directed the six-hour NBC miniseries A Woman of Independent Means, said, "The book has about 10 very powerful dramatic stories, and we're in the process of deciding which of the stories to do." He said he had been tracking the book for about three years and that HBO was the perfect home for it.

"They're not bound by any of the conventional rules," he said. "You can tell the story in whatever way the material demands."

Ron Bernstein, Faludi's agent at the Gersh Agency in Los Angeles, said that two sections of the book had been sold earlier. One, about male pornography stars, which appeared in The New Yorker magazine in 1995, was sold to HBO to be turned into a television drama. But the project was shelved because of the release of the movie Boogie Nights, which dealt with the world of pornography.

Another portion of the book, about U.S. Marine recruiters, has been purchased by New Regency films, and a script is already in development for two producers, Lisa Henson and Janet Yang.

Faludi's last book was the 1991 bestseller Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, which dealt with what she argued was the misogyny, half-truths and falsehoods marshalled against women.

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