Screenwriter Tony Kushner, Mimi Baird in Woodstock
Acclaimed screenwriter Tony Kushner made the trip to the Upper Valley in the middle of this Vermont winter. Just a few short weeks ago, he was consulting with author Mimi Baird at her home in Woodstock VT. Kushner has begun to write the screenplay for He Wanted The Moon.
Mimi Baird authored this critically acclaimed book, published in 2015, about her father, Dr. Perry Baird, who was absent from her life for reasons that were never clear. The book tells three stories--Mimi's search as an adult to solve the mystery of her father's disappearance, the biography of her father that she was able to piece together, and finally, the incorporation of a newly discovered manuscript written by Perry Baird himself, telling his story in his own words.
There is no more compelling book about mental illness, especially the picture painted by Dr. Baird of his treatment beginning in the 1930s. He was a brilliant physician, and in his more lucid moments, he sought to understand his own mental illness and to theorize about its causes and potential cures. Stories of his mistreatment are difficult to read, but in the end he is triumphant; it turns out that his theory about chemical imbalances being the cause of mental illness was proven true, but not in time to help him. Mimi Baird has spoken about the book to public and professional audiences to bring focus to the importance of understanding mental illness, even in our own times.
Before He Wanted The Moon was even released, it had caught the eye of Plan B, Brad Pitt's film production company. The renowned Tony Kushner, who received a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Angels in America (1993) and more recently wrote the screenplay for the film Lincoln (2012), was quickly brought in to write the script. It is now officially a work in progress, and while still early in the film's development, brings the realization of the project a step or two closer.
Once the screenplay is complete, choosing the cast for the film can begin. It has been reported that Brad Pitt will portray Dr. Baird. Mimi Baird states that the plan is to shoot at least some of the movie's scenes in Woodstock.
To read an earlier review of He Wanted The Moon, please click here.
(Featured photo, above: Tony Kushner, Mimi Baird, and Jon Estey, General Manager of the Vermont Standard. Used with permission of Ms. Baird)
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Susan B. Apel, writer, ArtfulEdge