These respective September 1961 and June 1997 covers are stealth-featured on the new official site launched yesterday by The Weinstein Company for their upcoming documentary Salinger. The documentary, directed by Shane Salerno, opens September 6.
The definitive biography of one of the most beloved and mysterious figures of the twentieth century will be “published in coordination with the international theatrical release of a major documentary film from the Weinstein Company.”
Salinger, by David Shields and Shane Salerno Hardcover: 704 pages Publisher: Simon & Schuster Release Date: September 3, 2013
J.D. Salinger, known for his wide-read book The Catcher in the Rye, has always been an enigma. A recluse of sorts, he refused to interview, appear in public, or sell movie rights to his book. Eight years ago authors Shields and Salerno began the process of discovering Salinger. Over the past eight years, and “especially in the three years since Salinger’s death, the authors interviewed on five continents more than 200 people, many of whom had previously refused to go on the record about their relationship with Salinger. This oral biography offers direct eyewitness accounts from Salinger’s World War II brothers-in-arms, his family members, his close friends, his lovers, his classmates, his neighbors, his editors, his publishers, his New Yorker colleagues, and people with whom he had relationships that were secret even to his own family. Shields and Salerno illuminate most brightly the last fifty-six years of Salinger’s life: a period that, until now, had remained completely dark to biographers. Provided unprecedented access to never-before-published photographs (more than 100 throughout the book), diaries, letters, legal records, and secret documents, readers will feel they have, for the first time, gotten beyond Salinger’s meticulously built-up wall. The result is the definitive portrait of one of the most fascinating figures of the twentieth century.”
If this doesn’t make you literary types’ mouths water, I don’t know what will. I’m thinking of making this one a “Happy Birthday to me” purchase. –Coming Fall 2013
The complex and contradictory human being behind the myth has never been revealed.
An unprecedented look inside the private world of J.D. Salinger, the reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye. Directed by Shane Salerno, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Martin Sheen and Danny DeVito. Salinger arrives in cinemas Sept 6!
Shane Salerno’s long-gestating documentary about influential and reclusive author J.D. Salinger has generated tremendous interest – both in Hollywood and New York literary circles. So when PBS’ American Masters landed the domestic television rights for a reported low-seven-figure sum (a mountain of cash in the world of public broadcasting), many industry watchers wondered how the non-profit sealed the deal before more deep-pocketed competitors even had a chance to make an offer. Enter Susan Lacy, the creator and executive producer of American Masters, a PBS staple since 1986.
The Weinstein Company has acquired theatrical rights to Salinger, the Shane Salerno-directed feature documentary on the reclusive author of The Catcher In The Rye. The deal is seven figures, and covers world rights except for the previous deal that licensed U.S. television rights to PBS’ American Masters. The plan is to release later this year for Oscar season, and the deal came after Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and the acquisition team were shown the film Sunday morning, the day of the Academy Awards. TWC was the only distributor that saw the finished film, and closed the deal right after.
Since early 2010, writer/director Shane Salerno has been shopping around his documentary on “Catcher In The Rye” author/recluse J.D. Salinger, entitled “Salinger,” which itself was five years and $2 million dollars of his personal cash in the making. Featuring “150 sources” interviewed who “either worked with the writer at The New Yorker or had contact with him otherwise,” the film kept a low profile afterwards, only releasing a never-before-seen photo later that year.
But ever the saving grace, Weinstein has acquired the theatrical rights to the film for right around $2 million as well, joining previous deals with PBS’ “American Masters” and Simon and Schuster for television and publishing rights to the tie-in book based on research for the movie, respectively. All told, the deal will equal upwards of $5 million - one of the most lucrative ever for a documentary. We can’t say the material isn’t worthy enough, either, with a absolute laundry list of interview subjects, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Danny DeVito, John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, A. Scott Berg, Elizabeth Frank and Gore Vidal. It seems Salerno’s incredibly hard work has found its rightful end, with the theatrical release slated for Oscar season later this year, followed by a bow on PBS’ “American Masters” in 2014. It looks like Salinger will be back in the spotlight whether we wants to or not.
The Weinstein Company (TWC) has set a September 6 theatrical release for the film. As Deadline reported, the deal is seven figures, around $2 million, and covers world rights except for the previous deal that licensed U.S. television rights to PBS’ American Masters. This was one of the most unusual deals in awhile, and came after Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and the acquisition team were shown the film on the morning of the Academy Awards.
TWC was the only distributor that saw the finished film, and closed the deal right after. Salerno and his lawyer Robert Offer made three big deals for the movie, showing it only to parties that made deals, which allowed the filmmaker to avoid any leakage of revelations in the film that might have resulted with a screening for multiple buyers. It was first shown to American Masters, which quickly closed a 7-figure licensing deal to make it the 200th installment of that prestigious series early next year. It was then shown to Jon Karp and his editors from Simon & Schuster, and right after they saw it, they closed a 7-figure publishing deal for a biography that Salerno wrote with David Shields. So the movie has played three times, and resulted in deals north of $5 million, making it one of the richest pacts ever for a feature documentary. It took Salerno eight years and $2 million of his own money to make the movie and the book happen.
Commenting on the deal, Salerno said: “I have the greatest respect for The Weinstein Company and the remarkable quality and consistency of the films they produce. I am honored to be working with them on what is for me an eight year labor of love.” “Shane Salerno has created a haunting piece of documentary filmmaking in SALINGER,” said TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein. “We are in awe of the painstaking detail used in depicting a man who created truly timeless works of literature, but otherwise remained an enigma for so many years.”
I was a tween when I read Catcher in the Rye; I lay down on my grandma’s couch and read the novel from beginning to end, almost without stopping. Afterward, I felt like I had after first riding the Corkscrew at Valleyfair: finally, I understood the hype.
Everyone has a Catcher story. It’s one of the defining works of American literature, a classic expression of adolescent tumult and alienation. The 1951 novel’s mythic stature has only grown in the wake of its author’s fabled aversion to publicity; J.D. Salinger has become the emblematic reclusive genius of our time.
From the final publication of Salinger’s lifetime—the story “Hapworth 16, 1924” in 1965—through to the author’s death in 2010, the few outsiders who broke through to Salinger had one consistent question: was Salinger still writing? The answer, consistently, was yes. But what was he writing? Would it ever be published?
Shane Salerno’s documentary Salinger, and its accompanying book, have made headlines for Salerno’s declaration—based on unnamed sources, but plausible given the depth of Salerno’s digging—that upon Salinger’s death, the author left instructions for the eventual publication of multiple book-length manuscripts, including more stories about Catcher’s Holden Caulfield.
Salinger ends with that revelation, detailed in written titles that appear over a surging score. If it’s accurate, it’s one of the biggest literary scoops in decades and will earn Salerno a grudgingly granted pride of place among Salingerists. If not, we’re still left with the rest of the film, which is undeniably fascinating but often tastelessly crafted.
Salerno landed interviews with a number of Salinger’s friends and peers, plus the author’s lovers Jean Miller and Joyce Maynard, as well as a few of the successful petitioners for the author’s attention during his decades of silence. Their testimony would make for an amply interesting movie, but Salerno tarts the film up with cheesy reenactments, celebrity testimonials (stunning revelation: John Cusack loves Catcher in the Rye), and a jarringly out-of-place montage featuring Catcher readers around the world. Even the interviews are distractingly cut; Maynard apparently told one story to the filmmakers twice, and instead of just hearing her speak, we’re made to ricochet back and forth between angles and outfits.
Almost despite himself, though, Salerno has managed to make a compelling film, one that asks important if unanswerable questions about the relationship between Salinger’s harrowing wartime experiences (his unit stormed the beach on D-Day and pressed on straight through to Berlin) and his later eccentricities. During the postwar decade, we learn, Salinger was winningly sociable; what happened to turn him against the world?
One of Salerno’s most provocative decisions is to devote some minutes of screen time to the fact that Catcher was the stated inspiration for the madmen who shot John Lennon (Mark David Chapman, 1980), Ronald Reagan (John Hinckley, Jr., 1981), and actress Rebecca Schaeffer (Robert John Bardo, 1989). We also learn that at least one early reader of Catcher infuriated Salinger by suggesting that Holden Caulfield himself was mad—that his seething resentment of society’s “phonies” was, essentially, irrational. Salinger himself has made clear that Caulfield bears deep similarities to his creator, which makes the question of Holden’s sanity pointedly relevant to understanding Salinger’s strange life.
Catcher is typically seen as crystallizing a phase of life—a phase through which “normal” adolescents ultimately pass when they grow to adulthood. Salinger, though, was an adult when he wrote Catcher; its first chapters took shape during the war, and the book wasn’t published until Salinger was 32. For Salinger, an intolerance of “phonies” wasn’t just a phase—it was his life.
Salinger, one has to imagine, would have hated Salinger. Does that make Salerno a phony? In Holden’s terms, probably. In more literal terms…we’ll have to keep our eyes on the new-release shelves to find out.
Watch the trailer for the motion picture event of the year, Salinger.
In the works for at least five years, if not longer, writer/director Shane Salerno has gone deep, putting $2 million dollars of his own personal cash into the making of the movie which tries to figure out the life of literature’s most famous recluse (sorry Harper Lee). An absolutely ridiculous list of participants are involved including: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Danny DeVito, John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, A. Scott Berg, Elizabeth Frank and Gore Vidal. Even more, a deal for a book is already in place, with Salerno to display more of what looks to be some incredible research, which seems to shed a lot of light on the mysterious author. We gotta say, we’re hooked and really looking forward to this one. “Salinger” opens on September 6th, and if we know Harv, this will be at Telluride and TIFF too. —Kevin Jagernauth
What propelled you to spend $2 million of your own money and nine years of your life to make this film? Salerno: Salinger is a massive figure in our culture and yet remains an extraordinary enigma. The critical and popular game over the last half-century has been to read the man through his work because the man would not speak, but the untold story of his life is more dramatic than anything he ever wrote. And that’s the story I wanted to tell: his life. Not the myth that has burned so brightly for nearly 50 years. I had three questions when I began this project nine years ago: 1. Why did J.D. Salinger stop publishing? 2. Why did he disappear? 3. And what has he been writing for 45 years?
Can you give us some details on how you made your deals with the Weinstein Co., Simon & Schuster, and “American Masters”/PBS? Our understanding is that these are the only three parties you showed the film to. That’s true. I showed the film to only these three companies because they were my ideal homes for the movie and book. The negotiations were highly unusual and required a number of people to keep every aspect secret.
Why did these distributors clamor to get the rights? Are there any details of the documentary you can share with us? When I was kid, there was a lot more mystery when you went to the movies. We have lost a lot of that mystery: moviegoers today know almost everything about a film before they go sit in a dark theater. “Salinger” is a totally immersive experience and we have worked very hard to preserve the mystery of the film and the book until they are released in September.
As a result, you’re not going to see the best parts of the film in the trailer, you’re not going to know months ahead of the release the names of Salinger’s friends who speak for the first time, and we’re not going to release galleys of the book. A lot of the media around the film naturally is focused on “The Catcher in the Rye,” which has sold more than 65 million copies, but Salinger had a fascinating life before “Catcher” was published and an even more fascinating life after. The moments that truly defined Salinger – from the beaches of Normandy, where he landed on D-Day, to a bunker in New Hampshire, where he lived with the Glass family – are covered in unprecedented fashion.
Were you surprised by what you uncovered in research? Is Salinger the same man you thought he was when you started your project? At this point I would say that making the film and co-writing the book with David Shields strengthened many beliefs I had about Salinger and changed many others. He is an infinitely richer, more complex, more contradictory, and more fascinating human being than I could ever have imagined when I began this project. It’s the complexity that stays with me: Salinger produced exquisite works of fiction while in perpetual freefall. I'm struck by the myriad connections between Salinger’s personal life and his strikingly autobiographical art. I’m thrilled that people are so excited about the trailer, but the trailer is only a small glimpse of the film.
Give us one reason why non-Salinger fans would want to see your movie. This is not a literary biography designed to play only to die-hard Salinger fans. This is a mystery thriller. For two hours in the film and 750 pages in the book, you are on an investigative journey, putting the pieces of the puzzle together one by one. This is history through a contemporary lens. The big questions are what happened to J.D. Salinger and why, and the film and book answer those questions and many others. —‘Salinger’: Shane Salerno says documentary answers 'big questions’
I would greatly appreciate if you would all immediately follow @SecretSalinger
Teaser poster debut for the Salinger documentary, directed by Shane Salerno, who is also co-authoring a biography with David Shields, titled The Private War of J.D. Salinger, which will hit shelves in September!
An unprecedented look inside the private world of J.D. Salinger, the reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye. Directed by Shane Salerno, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Martin Sheen and Danny DeVito. Salinger arrives in cinemas Sept 6! Watch the trailer here.
I just hope these people stay persistent because sometimes it’s six or eight scripts before they have that great script. All the people they admire went through these things and had adversity. Oliver Stone wrote 10 scripts before he wrote Platoon which got him all of his first jobs which got him Midnight Express and then he waited 10 years to get Platoon made… I attended all these (film industry) functions, the classes and the bookstores reading all the time. I have a 10,000-book library in my house from collecting books over the years. Young writers and beginning writers need to stay persistent and understand what the odds are against them succeeding.
Salerno made the transition to features at 23 when Steven Spielberg hired him to adapt the World War II submarine thriller ‘Thunder Below’ based on the book by Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Eugene B. Fluckey. Salerno’s first feature film script was also one of the earliest projects put into development by the newly formed DreamWorks Pictures. In an April 29, 1999 article in Variety, Salerno stated that he went to “writing school” under Spielberg.
He got a jump start in the business when he made an award winning documentary in high school that landed him on Larry King Live. That opened the door for him at age 19 as an apprentice on the TV program NYPD Blue. Salerno likes to stress that he was raised by a single mother, didn’t come from money, and never went to college. —Scott W. Smith
At the age of twenty-four he co-wrote the worldwide blockbuster Armageddon, which became the highest-grossing film of 1998. He most recently co-wrote and executive produced Savages directed by Oliver Stone. He has also written and produced television including the Golden Globe nominated Hawaii Five-0 for CBS, (2010–present), co-created and executive produced UC: Undercover for NBC (2000-2002) and began as a writer for Fox’s New York Undercover (1995-1998).
He writes select film and television projects with the hugely admired crime novelist Don Winslow including the forthcoming 2013 spy thriller Satori set to star Leonardo DiCaprio for Warner Brothers.
Winslow and Salerno have known each other for a long time — thirteen years to be exact. They have worked together, including creating the NBC TV series UC: Undercover, trust each other implicitly and often exchange early drafts of their work and talk on the phone every day, usually about film adaptations of Winslow’s work which Salerno produces. At our request, Salerno rang up his buddy Winslow who was in the middle of a cross-country book tour and interviewed the acclaimed crime writer about his life and work. —Don Winslow, Interviewed by Shane Salerno
You dedicated The Kings of Cool to Shane Salerno, your co-screenwriter on “Savages.” Why was that relationship so significant? DW: I met Shane maybe thirteen years ago when we were working on a TV show called “UC: Undercover.” I was an admirer of his work and we became good buddies. I would tell him what was going on with my books vis a vis film and he would offer some pretty sage counsel. He has a company called Story Factory that is all about the nexus between film and book. So when I started to write Savages I sent the first fourteen pages to Shane in an e-mail saying, ‘Either I’m completely crazy or this is pretty good.’ And he wrote back in half an hour and said, ‘Drop everything else you’re doing and finish this while you’re in this headspace.’ We was enthralled with this from literally day one and we decided to work on the screenplay together. Shane had the idea of going outside the studio system to get the thing made with Oliver. So he’s been really essential and when I sat down to write The Kings of Cool, I thought I should dedicate it to him. —On ‘Savages,’ Oliver Stone, and Screenwriting: An Interview with Author Don Winslow
He is the producer and director of the forthcoming documentary Salinger about reclusive author J. D. Salinger which will be released theatrically by The Weinstein Company on September 6, 2013 and then premiere as the 200th episode of American Masters in January, 2014. His first book (with David Shields), The Private War of J. D. Salinger will be released by Simon & Schuster in September, 2013.
Salerno financed the film out of his pocket, interviewed 150 sources, and accumulated so much information that he collaborated on a 700-page companion book with bestselling author David Shields. The 150 sources interviewed in the film either worked with Salinger at The New Yorker or had contact with him otherwise, or were greatly influenced by him. The famous names include Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Danny DeVito, John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, A. Scott Berg, Elizabeth Frank, Gore Vidal, and many other fans, journalists, filmmakers, playwrights, and artists inspired by Salinger’s work. Salerno went into the documentary expecting it to be a 6-month project. But it grew into a five-year obsession. During that time, the screenwriter made several 7-figure deals for such projects as the Fox sci-fi fantasy Doomsday Protocol, and the Paramount/Skydance action-comedy License to Steal. So Salerno plowed several million dollars of that money into the documentary, working nights and weekends, and hiring the likes of Buddy Squires, the cinematographer for every Ken Burns documentary.
“He somehow understood in 1951 the corrosive effect that fame and money could have on his writing. He was singular, and in this Internet age where people pursue their 15 minutes of fame, nobody did what Salinger did: living in the woods in New Hampshire, writing to please only himself. The biggest challenge was, how far do you pull back the curtain on a mythic figure while preserving his legacy? We answered some questions, but other Salinger mysteries will remain unsolved.” The obvious question is: did Salerno get Salinger on camera? He would not tell me. But I’ve learned there’s a 5-minute section of the film that was held out of early screenings for security reasons. —Secret J.D. Salinger Documentary & Book, Now Revealed
The Weinstein Company (TWC) has set a September 6 theatrical release for the film. This was one of the most unusual deals in awhile, and came after Harvey Weinstein, David Glasser and the acquisition team were shown the film on the morning of the Academy Awards. TWC was the only distributor that saw the finished film, and closed the deal right after. Salerno and his lawyer Robert Offer made three big deals for the movie, showing it only to parties that made deals, which allowed the filmmaker to avoid any leakage of revelations in the film that might have resulted with a screening for multiple buyers.
It was first shown to American Masters, which quickly closed a 7-figure licensing deal to make it the 200th installment of that prestigious series early next year. It was then shown to Jon Karp and his editors from Simon & Schuster, and right after they saw it, they closed a 7-figure publishing deal for a biography that Salerno wrote with David Shields. So the movie has played three times, and resulted in deals north of $5 million, making it one of the richest pacts ever for a feature documentary. It took Salerno eight years and $2 million of his own money to make the movie and the book happen.
Commenting on the deal, Salerno said: “I have the greatest respect for The Weinstein Company and the remarkable quality and consistency of the films they produce. I am honored to be working with them on what is for me an eight year labor of love.” “Shane Salerno has created a haunting piece of documentary filmmaking in SALINGER,” said TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein. “We are in awe of the painstaking detail used in depicting a man who created truly timeless works of literature, but otherwise remained an enigma for so many years.” —Mike Fleming Jr
A truly amazing story on so many levels. As Rod Tidwell said in Jerry Maguire, 'Yeah, man, it means love, respect, community… and the dollars too. The whole package. The kwan.’ Shane Salerno and Don Winslow are huge fans of Cinephilia and Beyond. I’m honored and humbled by their support, and even endless thanks cannot express my gratitude. I would greatly appreciate if you would all immediately follow them on Twitter: @SecretSalinger @donwinslow
“Not to be preachy about it, but discipline is everything for a working writer, at least for this one. I can’t just wander around fields of flowers or sit brooding in coffee houses waiting for the muse to land on my shoulder and whisper in my ear. That would nice, but it ain’t gonna happen. I treat writing like a factory job — the whistle blows and I’m at work. This thing always comes down to someone sitting down with some kind of writing instrument and getting it done.” —Don Winslow
New J.D. Salinger Book and Film Coming Within Next Year
A new J.D. Salinger film and biography are being billed as an unprecedented look into the mysterious life of the author of The Catcher In the Rye.
Simon & Schuster announced Tuesday that it had acquired The Private War of J.D. Salinger, an oral biography compiled by author David Shields and filmmaker-screenwriter Shane Salerno, whose screenplay credits include the Oliver Stone film Savages.