Hollywood long ago took notice of author Nelson DeMille’s bestselling novels.
John Travolta starred in the 1999 film “The General’s Daughter,” the highest profile project drawn from one of DeMille’s yarns. The small screen tapped two of DeMille’s works since then – the 2003 TNT film “Word of Honor” starring Don Johnson and “Mayday,” a 2005 telefilm featuring Aidan Quinn and Dean Cain.
But what about John Corey, the ace terrorist hunter at heart of six DeMille novels, including the just-released thriller “The Panther?” It’s hard to imagine a better fit for a blockbuster film franchise. Corey is a no-nonsense hero with a quick wit and an unabashed love for his country.
That may not be enough, the author tells Big Hollywood.
He says two earlier Corey novels – “The Lion’s Game” and “Plum Island” – have been bought by Sony Pictures, but he doesn’t sound optimistic about seeing his smart aleck hero on screen anytime soon.
Hollywood has a real problem making movies with terrorist themes, he says. Films focusing on radical Islam could stumble over foreign distribution, he says.
“They wouldn’t open in France or Germany,” he says, adding such films could be subject to threats by those who don’t approve of the content. One need only consider the recent reaction in the Middle East to a crude video critical of the Islamic faith to consider the possibilities.
He notes his fellow author Tom Clancy experienced Hollywood’s discomfort with this issue firsthand. The 2002 film “The Sum of All Fears,” based on Clancy’s bestseller, swapped out the Arab villains for more politically correct bad guys.
There are exceptions to Hollywood’s reticence to tackling the War on Terror, of course, but they often involve true stories of limited scope. The critically hailed 2006 movie “United 93” took us on the hijacked plane that ended up crashing in a Pennsylvania field, while the upcoming “Zero Dark Thirty” tracks the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
It’s fair to say the latter project might not have been made had a certain ex-president made the call to trigger that successful Navy SEAL mission.