The thrilling news is that “Tulip Fever” is going to be filmed at last….fifteen years after it was destroyed by Gordon Brown in his tax clampdown. I really thought it would never happen, so it’s fantastic that the cameras will start rolling on 19 May. Three cheers for its producer Alison Owen, who has at long last got this off the ground through sheer passion and perseverance, and for Harvey Weinstein. Justin Chadwick will direct – he directed “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” , and has done some wonderful TV work including “Bleak House”, one of my favourite series of all time. Christopher Waltz will play Cornelis, Alicia Vikander will play Sophia and Dane deHaan will play the young artist. This is extremely interesting casting as the two younger actors are rising stars, just on the cusp, and by the time the film is made they’ll be familiar names. And Christopher Waltz, who has appeared most recently in the last two Tarantino films, is simply dazzling. So phew all round.
Meanwhile the sequel to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is shooting in India; in addition to the original cast they have Richard Gere, David Strathairn and Tamsin Grieg (who, incidentally, played Mrs Frank in my adaptation of “Anne Frank’s Diary”).
Talking of films, I was on the jury at the London Film Festival and we awarded Best Film to “Ida”, directed by the marvellous Pawel Pawlikowski. When it’s released you must see it – we all agreed unanimously that it was a rare and deeply affecting movie. It’s set after the War, in Poland, and tells the story of a young novitiate nun, her raddled and world-weary aunt, and the secrets they discover about their Jewish past. It’s shot in black-and-white with a largely non-professional cast. Another film we loved wa the Indian movie “The Lunchbox”, about a lonely young wife in Mumbai – great film-making in the humanist, Ray tradition. Watch out for them.
For the past couple of months I’ve been sitting at my desk trying to think up a plot for my next novel. Sitting at ones desk is not the best way to do it. Those of you who write, know that ideas don’t come when you try to think of them, they ambush you unawares. Still, my Puritan work ethic stops me from gallivanting around in the mornings, hoping for lightening to strike. During this fallow period, however, a couple of nice things have happened.
I’ve been awarded, of all things, the Daily Telegraph Churchill prize for being a Power-Pensioner! In other words, it’s for achieving stuff at an advanced age. Some of my fellow winners, in other categories, are Nicholas Parsons (90 years old, unbelievably), Dame Helen Mirren, the great John Byrne (Art) and Sir Alex Ferguson (Sport). It also honours local heroes. I was especially glad about Peter Neal (75) who organized the anti-Tesco protest in Sherborne (the town’s first demo since their riot over the 1832 Reform Act), which saw off the monster supermarket and saved the small shops.
We need people like him to join the growing opposition to the utterly insane HS2 rail project. It’s only recently that people have seen the true scale of destruction that it would cause, should it go ahead – to thousands of lives, homes and businesses in North London; to thirty ancient woodlands…Do Google it and lend your voice to the opposition.
Anyway, the other nice thing is that my daughter Lottie’s first novel, “Kiss Me First” has not only been shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award but she’s won the Specsavers New Writer of the Year prize. It’s just out in paperback. Do visit her website, www.lottiemoggach.com. And you can find out more about my son Tom Moggach’s book, “The Urban Kitchen Gardener” on his website, www.tom-moggach.com. I’m very proud of both of them, needless to say.
Meanwhile, if you want to get in touch, do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s always nice to hear from you.