When I heard Sarah Jessica Parker would star in a TV series based on the story of Philadelphia Daily News reporters Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman, my first thought was, how very cool for these two great journalists and fine people – both are friends.
My second thought: Who’s going to play Wendy in the series?
Like everybody else, I assumed that Parker would be playing Barbara, who’s tall and blonde, rather than Wendy, who’s a short brunette.
“My understanding was she was going to play me,” Wendy told me when I got her on the phone. “But they didn’t say anything in the announcement, so maybe she’s undecided.”
I told Wendy I figured Holly Hunter would be perfect for her. Wendy is a funny and relentless ball of energy with a winning smile and cutting wit. And Hunter is the right size.
She told me a bunch of people said that, including a former editor at the New York Times who’d emailed her.
“I wrote him back and said, ‘you’re killing me, how old do you think I am? Isn’t she like 60?'” she said.Actually, Hunter is 56. Wendy is 44.
Wendy said the editor wrote her back and suggested Betty White.
Folks at the Daily News are having plenty of fun with the casting game. Wendy and Barbara’s crusty editor Gar Joseph (who used to be my crusty editor) is telling people he wants George Clooney or nobody.
Wendy figures Chris Cooper is a good fit.
As good as The Wire?
The series will be based on Busted, Wendy and Barbara’s book based their Pulitzer Prize-winning series about police misconduct in Philadelphia.
Wendy said she’s excited about the production. The director, David Frankel is an accomplished pro whose credits include “The Devil Wears Prada.” But he’s also the son of Max Frankel, a former editor of the New York Times.
“He grew up in a newsroom, so he gets it,” Wendy said.
She said the plan is for a multi-layered series, “kind of like (HBO’s) The Wire” with three interwoven plot lines – Wendy and Barbara’s personal story, newspaper culture at a stressful time for the business, and the story the reporters uncover about drug dealers, informants, cops, and victims.
I asked Wendy if she was worried about seeing them do something with the story, or her character that makes her squirm.
That’s not how she rolls, she said.
“The reality is that it’s based on non-fiction, but it’s fiction,” she said. “I know people who know us will be able to tell the difference between me and the character.”
She said they don’t stand to make a lot of money, but will get consulting fees.
“I told our agent they can make Barbara and I lesbian lovers if I can make enough to send my kids to summer camp,” she said.
That’s somebody I’d like to see on TV.