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The new Wayne Wang film, "Center of the World", has been getting a lot of attention in the press recently, mostly because of its steamy sex scenes and its focus on the trendy world of dotcoms and intnet startups. I recieved this in the mail recently, which is more or less along the lines of how the general press has been interpreting Auster and his wife's involvement with the film:
Just a note regarding the January 3rd entry on The Center of the World: The story by credit goes to Paul Auster, Siri Hustvedt, Wayne Wang and Miranda July. The screenplay credit goes to Ellen Benjamin Wong. This is a pseudonymous name for Paul Auster, Siri Hustvedt and Wayne Wang who wrote the actual screenplay together.
Today, though, I got a note from Auster's assistant, who wanted to clear up a few of the media misconceptions:
[Auster] and Siri were involved, in the very early stages, with the film THE CENTER OF THE WORLD. It's a project of Wayne Wang's and it's in release now. Because of Paul's other collaborations with Wayne, reviewers and fans have assumed that Paul wrote the script. But because of the nature of the film, which is difficult and sexually explicit, as well as philosophically distant from Paul and Siri's work, Paul feels strongly about making the distinctions clear.
In addition to this statement, she also included a letter from the producers of the film which is being released to media outlets in an attempt to clarify Paul and Siri's involvement with the film:
As producers of THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, the new film by Wayne Wang currently in release, we would like to correct a number of erroneous statements that have appeared in the press concerning the attribution of credits.
The film is not a collaboration between Wayne Wang and Paul Auster, as some reviewers have suggested, nor was the screenplay written by Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt. At Mr. Wang's request, Mr. Auster and Ms. Hustvedt contributed some general story ideas at an early stage of the project, but neither one of them was involved in the making of the film. The final screenplay was the result of many contributors' work, including internet entepreneurs, sex industry workers, other writers, the actors, as well as Miranda July and Wayne Wang himself. To accurately reflect such wide and varying sources, the screenplay credit was assigned to a pseudonym.
The confusion was no doubt created by the fact that Wayne Wang and Paul Auster collaborated on two earlier films, SMOKE and BLUE IN THE FACE. Those screenplays were indeed written by Mr. Auster. The screenplay of THE CENTER OF THE WORLD was not.
Peter Newman and Greg Johnson
THE CENTER OF THE WORLD
So there you have it. Although Paul and Siri do get official WGA story credit, they were apparently not involved in the actual writing of the screenplay.
A couple of quick items: one reader reports that composer Michael Mantler will be releasing a CD for which Auster wrote the words called "Hide and Seek". You can get more information on this recording, which will be released in March in Europe and May in the US, by going to http://www.mantlermusic.com/.
Another reader writes in to tell that when he emailed the Henry Holt company to ask about Auster's next book, the replied that it's title was "I Thought My Father Was God" and that it is currently scheduled for a Fall 2001 release. This may not be a novel; instead, this may by the National Story Project compilation that Auster has been working on.
Haven't heard much else recently. If you have any news, send it my way.
More details are starting to emerge about the film the Auster is collaborating on with his wife Siri Hustveldt. It is called Center of the World, and it now has a web site (which at this point is basically just a Quicktime for the trailer). There are now two other writers crediting with contributing to the story and a different writer altogether is credited with the final screenplay, but hopefully Wayne Wang will remain true to Auster's vision as he has in their other collaborations. It is tentatively scheduled to be released on March 30, but no official date has been announced yet. The Internet Movie Database gives the following plot summary: "A Silicon Valley venture capitalist and a stripper spend three days together in Las Vegas." The movie looks fairly racythe trailer is mostly shots of what appear to be said stripper dancing in a club (nudity and allthe site warns before the trailer starts that it contains sexually explicit material), with a quick shot at the end of a man at a laptop that we can presume is the venture capitalist.
Special thanks to reader Adam Santangelo for sending me info about this project.