Q. How did HOOT ever get made?
Jimmy Buffett, an old friend, basically made some phone calls. He liked the book and thought it would make a good family film.
There are many Parrotheads in high places in Hollywood, and pretty soon we had a deal.
Q. Were you pleased with the movie?
I thought the film of HOOT stayed very true to the spirit of the novel, which isn't always the case. Wil Shriner, who wrote the script and directed the picture, fought long and hard to stay faithful to the book. I was involved in some of those battles, too, and I'd be lying to say that it didn't take a toll.
Some critics complained that the movie didn't have the same edginess as the book, and that's probably true. We won some fights with the studios, and we lost others. We had a very modest budget and a tough shooting schedule (during hurricane season), so there wasn't much time for stonewalling. There was a fun spirit on the set -- the crew and the actors were terrific, I thought.
In the end, the film was basically a valentine to wild Florida, a place that Wil, Jimmy and I care deeply about. It had a nice feel and a strong message, and the kids who saw it really liked it, judging from the tons of letters I've gotten. Best of all, it's actually saved some of those little burrowing owls from getting bulldozed.
The weekend HOOT opened, we got murdered at the box office by Tom Cruise and Robin Williams. But that's Hollywood. The DVD is selling very well, which is what we expected. These days, it's tough to open a kid-oriented movie with normal kids in it. You need animated armadillos, teen wizards or armies of trolls.
Q. What did you think of the movie version of STRIP TEASE?
I think it proves how difficult it is to adapt a satirical novel to film. Andy Bergman, who wrote and directed the movie, was ferociously loyal to the plot of the book, except for the ending. The problem with STRIP TEASE and all my novels is that while there are cinematic moments and appealing characters, the deadpan tone of the humor is sustained by the narrative voice. Unfortunately, most movies don't have a narrative voice because they don't have a narrator.
It was a tough assignment: Make a funny movie about a woman who's had her only child snatched away by a convicted felon. I didn't envy Andy, or any of the other screenwriters who've done scripts of my books. As for the experience itself, it was completely painless, especially when the check cleared. I was only on the film set briefly, but everybody was friendly -- Demi Moore, Burt Reynolds, everybody. A guy I liked very much was Ving Rhames, whom I thought made the perfect "Shad."
Q. Have you thought of writing the screenplays yourself?
I couldn't do it, and I'd have to be insane to try.