Many of us were playing that time-tested game of “what-if” last week.
As the dollar amounts spiked on the Mega Millions lottery jackpot, I found myself engaged in conversation with several different people regarding how we would spend the loot if we struck gold in the drawing. People spoke of donating large chunks to charity, paying off their parents’ mortgages, setting aside college funds for every child they knew and building a golden igloo in the middle of the Alaska wilderness (yeah, I’m looking at you, Shaun Lambert).
Though I knew full-well the odds of hitting that jackpot were roughly the same as being eaten by a crocodile while on a manned satellite circling Venus, I got caught up in the fever as well. I mentally fantasized over complete financial freedom, exotic vacations and a diamond-encrusted remote control for my down-time at home. Alas, I hit no more than one number on any of my tickets and was left with a deep sigh, crushed dreams and a rather pedestrian remote.
Another game of “what-if” I find myself in all too often is the fantasy sport of picking someone to portray yourself if a movie is ever made of your life. I actually enjoy this one sometimes, as people give names like Mel Gibson or Megan Fox, when they actually more closely resemble Mel Torme or Redd Foxx. And though I’d like to say that Jason Statham or Ed Harris would be a good pick to play me in my life story, it would probably be more accurate to select Mr. Magoo or Mr. Slate, from Flintstones fame, or someone of the same bald-headed cartoonish ilk.
Of course, accuracy doesn’t always seem to play a prominent role when Hollywood casts for certain roles. For instance, one of my favorite authors is Lawrence Block, who authored a fantastically-entertaining series of books focused on the character Bernie Rhodenbarr, a world-class burglar who runs a used-book store in Greenwich Village, N.Y. When I heard they were adapting Bernie Rhodenbarr into a movie, I was thrilled. When I heard they selected Whoopi Goldberg to play Bernie, I was, well, less than thrilled. Regardless, I watched “Burglar” because I love the stories. I was left hoping that I would be eaten by a crocodile while orbiting ...
But I digress.
I went through the same crash when I learned that Morgan Freeman would portray Alex Cross in the Hollywood version of James Patterson’s “Kiss the Girls.” I love Freeman. He’s one of my favorite actors. But he should not have played the big, strong detective with the young children. He should have played Cross’ grandfather.
I’m sure many of you are nodding your head right now while reading this, thinking of several examples yourself. Of course, I kind of doubt that “many” of you read my column in the first place, so let’s re-work that to, “I’m sure one of you is nodding your head right now and ...”.
Regardless, I came across another casting item the other day that made me cringe a little. No, a lot. It seems that Ashton Kutcher is going to play Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in an upcoming independent film. Yes, one of the most significant visionaries the world has ever seen — the man who helped bring us the personal computer and portable digital music, among other significant contributions — is going to be portrayed by the man who brought us “Punk’d” and ruined “Two and a Half Men” for me.
I get what they’re doing in Hollywood. They take a wildly-popular book or celebrity and bank that people will show up just because of that familiarity, and then they toss in an actor with a rabid fan base to attract others who normally wouldn’t have been interested. But Ashton Kutcher playing Steve Jobs? What, Keanu Reeves or some random pothead college kid wasn’t available?
I am a huge admirer of what Steve Jobs accomplished — both for himself personally and the world as a whole. Don’t ruin that by casting a person whose greatest accomplishment was marrying a woman old enough to be played by Morgan Freeman.