Stipe's company to film Coupland's new book: Rock star sitcom for MTV also in the works


From National Post (July 18, 2001)

by Michael Fleming

NEW YORK - Single Cell, the production partnership between R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe and Sandy Stern, is turning up its volume of film production, making a movie deal for Vancouver author Douglas Coupland's upcoming novel, All Families Are Psychotic, and prepping an MTV sitcom about the world of a Stipe-like rock star.

To be published in September by Bloomsbury Press, the Cape Canaveral-set All Families Are Psychotic chronicles a family get-together the weekend before the first U.S. female astronaut is launched into space.

"She might be the most grounded family member, when she is about to fly off into space," said Stipe. "This is a very real story that turns into a fairy tale."

Coupland's books have been magnets for movies, with Generation X, Shampoo Planet and Microserfs all under option. Stern said Single Cell will seek to enlist a young writer-director who embraces Coupland's take.

Stipe and Stern are further along with the MTV project, with a Gustin Nash-scripted pilot script about to be delivered, based on Stern's simple idea.

"It was based on my life with Michael, transposed into being the story of a young 22-year-old rock star whose best friend is a young A&R girl and together they navigate the New York music scene and their personal lives," said Stern.

Stipe said he didn't see it as his life story, as he keeps a comfy distance from both the music and movie businesses by living in Atlanta.

After making a splash with Being John Malkovich, Stipe and Stern have moved carefully to assemble projects they believe in, turning down many because Stipe's as exacting with movie quality as he is with his music.

Stipe and Stern's other projects include The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, a Brady Udall script that Stipe said "portrays a child's life from a more realistic point of view than most films." The script is out to directors. They've got a deal on Tribute to Another Dead Rock Star, a Maryanne Melloan-scripted adaptation of a book for Showtime about a teen asked to eulogize his dead mother, a rock icon.

They are about to cast Saved, a black comedy scripted and to be directed by Brian Dannelly about a girl who finds her pregnancy makes her an outcast at a Baptist high school. "It's like those monster vampire high school kind of movies, only here the monsters are Jesus-freak teenagers," said Stipe.

Another high priority project is Blonde, written and to be directed by Everett Lewis that, Stern said, "takes the Bonnie and Clyde story and shows another side of them, the one that was into kinky sex." Peter Sarsgaard is attached to play Clyde, with Robert Shulevitz producing with the Single Cell duo.

Black & White Photo: Chris Bolin, National Post / (MICHAEL) STIPE: exacting standards.; Black & White Photo: Rob Kruyt, The Vancouver Sun / (DOUGLAS) COUPLAND: movie magnet.