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Adventures in Hollywood: How a movie option almost ruined my life

Lynn Messina wrote Fashionistas when she was working as a copy editor at InStyle magazine, and it became one of several popular books from 2003 that skewered the fashion industry and celebrity culture from the inside. The Devil Wears Prada was quickly adapted into a blockbuster movie. Fashionistas was not. This is her story.

I’m reasonably sure Charles Dickens wasn’t thinking of a movie option when he wrote about the interminable Chancery court case at the heart of Bleak House — mostly because film hadn’t been invented yet but also because he was a best seller and the works of best sellers often make a smooth transition from page to screen.

It was, however, the first thing I thought of while watching Masterpiece Theatre’s wonderful 2006 adaptation. In my experience, having one’s book optioned by a Hollywood producer bears a striking resemblance to the litigation of a generations-old lawsuit that ruins almost every life it touches: engulfment in a system so vast and arcane that only industry insiders understand how it works as it slogs through an expensive, ineffective, and technically difficult process that promises great wealth to those invested in an outcome so far removed from its origins that few can remember its source material.

Welcome to the High Court of the Chancery.

My book’s transition from page to screen was supposed to go smoothly. When Fashionistas was published in 2003, almost simultaneously as The Devil Wears Prada, Hollywood quickly came calling. Within months of a generous offer, it had everything it needed: studio backing, established screenwriters, and a star — and not just any star: Lindsay Lohan, bright-eyed and fresh from the success of Mean Girls. Reports of her involvement ricocheted around the world so quickly that it was my brother on a business trip to South Korea who broke the news to me. READ FULL STORY

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