Only the Lawyers Know: Why Can’t I Have Harry?

Ever since I saw Michael Connelly play himself in a poker game on the amateur sleuth television show, “Castle,” I’ve been thinking he should have more Hollywood in his life. After all, isn’t that where we hang with Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller, at least on paper?

Well, finally the Lincoln Lawyer is on the mega screen in your local multiplex and that leads us to the question—where is big brother Harry? (Well, half-brother, but lets not quibble.) Hieronymus Bosch has been a staple in the mystery diet of lovers of hard-boiled police procedurals for nearly twenty years. And Harry grows in his books. You can see the man change, even if he doesn’t always improve. For an exceptionally good character piece with a mystery bent, try The Last Coyote. Oh and sometimes Harry surprises the reader with a bit of romance. So, what kept Harry out of a theater near you, while Mickey got there in less than six years of his first seeing the light of day in print?

Apparently, it’s all about movie options. In 1992 Paramount Studios optioned the first two books that feature Harry Bosch, The Black Ice and The Black Echo. Paramount exercised the option in 1995. Unfortunately for the Harry Bosch fans among us, the option included the rights to Harry himself. And all these years later, Paramount has failed to get even a glimmer of a Harry Bosch movie into production. After the option elapsed in 2010, Michael Connelly tried to buy his intellectual property back but Paramount wanted a ton of money and told Connelly that they had quitclaimed all rights to The Black Echo to Columbia, so he’d have to negotiate with them as well. Naturally, Connelly filed a lawsuit and we may be following this story in the industry news for years to come.

I’m sure this is all fascinating for, oh say, my son the lawyer, but for fans like us, the larger issue is why can’t we have our favorite characters standing twenty feet tall on a wide screen while we munch popcorn in rhythm with the suspense of the story and nervously wonder if the ending is going to be exactly the same as the book, or, did that #[email protected]&* Hollywood muck it up?

About five years ago, Michael Connelly and Robert Crais were together at Sleuthfest, a mystery writer’s conference in Florida. They are obviously good friends and I remember they joked about how Connelly had put Elvis Cole, recognizable but un-named, in a paragraph in Lost Light. And Crais put Harry Bosch in a similar cameo in The Last Detective.

I’m a big fan of Los Angeles Private Investigator Elvis Cole, introduced to us by Crais nearly fifteen years ago in The Monkey’s Raincoat. Through the years, as I enjoyed book after brilliant book, I keep wondering why Elvis never hit the big screen. When Crais’ stand alone, Hostage, was released as a movie in 2005, starring no less than Bruce Willis, I just knew Elvis Cole was not far behind. But, no.

So, I checked around and according to Crais’ website while he has received “numerous offers from Hollywood to buy the screen rights to the Elvis Cole novels, he has no intention of selling them.” Maybe the experience of his pal Connelly warned him away.

But before I get crazy and threaten to boycott the entire motion picture industry, I must remember that Stephanie Plum is coming very soon to a theater near me in One For The Money. So pass the popcorn while we see if Katherine Heigl makes Janet Evanovich’s  wildly popular “bounty hunter in Trenton New Jersey” a big screen hit.

And, who knows, maybe some day Harry Bosch and Elvis Cole will have back-to-back shows on the little screen. Then I can enjoy my popcorn and my favorite characters while snuggled in my pjs and curled in my recliner.


According to Terrie Farley Moran, writing short mystery fiction is nearly as much fun as hanging out with any or all of her seven grandchildren. One of her recent shorts can be found in the anthology Crimes By Moonlight. Terrie blogs at Women of Mystery.

Comments

  1. Laura K. Curtis

    In many ways, I think the small screen is kinder to the detectives I love. No, it doesn’t always do them justice, but I guess when something pops into my living room week to week, I am more forgiving than when I have to fork over the big bucks to get a mere two hours of big screen time.

    I don’t like what they did to Temperance Brennan in the TV show Bones, or to Rizzoli and Isles, but I watch them even so.

    On the other hand, as far as I am concerned, Robert Urich *is* Spenser. To this day, I see him and hear him when I pick up a Parker novel. I’d love to see Harry Bosch on the small screen…but I wonder who could do him justice!

  2. Terrie Farley Moran

    Oh Laura, I, too, am more forgiving if the characters are willing to hang out in my living room rather than make me put on shoes, get in the car, etc.

    In my mind I have been able to separate the Temperence Brennan on Bones from the Temperance Brennan in the books. So both work for me.

    Against my better judgement, I am planning on giving Rizzoli and Isles another shot when the new season starts. I have found the books to be very easy to lose myself in, while the TV series keeps me saying, “are you kidding me?” Especially when in the final episode the entire precinct conveniently emptied out so the perp could hold R&I hostage. Too far fetched even for those of us who want to believe.

    And you have stymied me–who could play Harry Bosch on TV? William H. Macy perhaps? I have to think more about that. Anyone else have a suggestion?

  3. David Cranmer

    I’m so behind the times. I’m just now watching Jim Hutton in Ellery Queen. But you have me interested in Harry Bosch and the first book in the series.

  4. Terrie Farley Moran

    Oooohhh, Jim Hutton was the best Ellery Queen ever! I did see Peter Lawford and Ralph Bellamy in the role, but Jim Hutton was the one who nailed it!!! I was so sad when the tv show was canned after only one season.

    Do try Harry Bosch. I think you will enjoy meeting him.

  5. RACE BANNON BERNS

    Hey, guys, if you love Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, try Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole. Another “Harry’ but just as exciting life, plot lines, crimes!

  6. Terrie Farley Moran

    Hi Revel, I just took a quick look at reviews of a few of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole books. Harry sounds like my kind of protag AND the books are set in Oslo! I just commented yesterday on Amy Dalton’s post “The Only Honest Cop in Thailand” that I really need to expand my horizons in terms of reading mysteries set in other lands. Thanks for a lead on what sounds like a great series.

  7. Debs

    I love Elvis, Harry and Stephanie, but I am not sure how Katherine Heigl will work as Stephanie, but then again, I’m not sure how Jennifer Garner will work as Miss Marple in her upcoming movie.

    Looking forward to trying the Jo Nesbo books mentioned above, right after I read Barry Eisler’s latest short story, “Paris is a Bitch.”

  8. Terrie Farley Moran

    Hi Debs. Great to see you here. I think we’re all curious about Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum. Somehow I envision SP as looking a lot tougher than KH may be able to manage. As to the Jennifer Garner/Miss Marple movie, that is a whole other can of worms.

    I just got Barry’s press email about “Paris is a Bitch” and plan to download it as a PDF. I ‘m sure it will be stunning. The man has a way with words!

  9. Elyse

    Hi Terrie,

    Good news–Connelly recently won back the movie rights to Harry Bosch and has teamed up with the producers of the Swedish GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO movies to bring Harry to the big screen. More details about that [url=http://www.deadline.com/2011/03/michael-connelly-setting-crime-series-with-dragon-tattoo-producer/]here[/url]. In [url=http://shelf-life.ew.com/2011/04/02/michael-connelly-says-he-sees-twilight-dad-as-harry-bosch/]this article[/url], he says he sees [url=http://letterstotwilight.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/copstache02.gif]Billy Burke[/url] as Bosch. Burke is Bella’s father in the TWILIGHT movies. What do you think? In my head, Harry is a little older.

  10. Terrie Farley Moran

    Wow! Elyse. That is the best news ever! Thank you so much for letting me know. When Harry hits the big screen, I will put on my shoes and be in the theater for the first show on the day the movie is released.

    Many actors I thought could play Harry have aged out of the role long ago. (Bo Hopkins, Kevin Conway, Anthony Zerbe, etc.) Billy Burke is a little younger and thinner than I picture Harry. Still, Connelly has written enough material for an entire series of Harry Bosch movies, so I guess if they put some gray in Burke’s hair and paint on a wrinkle or two, he might do nicely. I hesitate to differ from Michael Connelly’s view on this because I thought Matthew M. was the worst possible choice for Mickey Haller but I was dead wrong and Michael Connelly, who said he’d seen MM in another role and thought he’d be a perfect Mickey, was absolutely right. And who knows better?

  11. Kim M. Hammond

    I remember seeing Robert Crais at Sleuthfest and listening to his interview. He basically said Hollywood ruined Hostage and that he had no intention on selling another book. Looks like he has stuck to that!

  12. Terrie Farley Moran

    Isn’t it terrific that Bob Crais takes such pride in his work? He wants it how he wants it and he’s certainly entitled.

  13. Kerry Hammond

    Great blog Terrie, and very informative. Poor Michael that they are tying up Bosch for no reason. I too remember Crais & Connelly at Sleuthfest and they were both great speakers and seemed to be great guys (we all know they’re great writers). I haven’t hit the theater for Lincoln Lawyer yet, but can’t wait to see how Mathew does. And dont’ get me started on how excited I am for Ms. Plum’s debut.

  14. Terrie Farley Moran

    Of course I was pre-disposed to love the Lincoln Lawyer.
    And love it, I did.

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