Craig Finn on Making a Script of Chuck Klosterman’s Memoir

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In October, it was announced that Craig Finn of the Hold Steady had collaborated with Letterman writer Tom Ruprecht on a screenplay adaptation of Chuck Klosterman’s memoir Fargo Rock City. This week we got Finn on the phone to talk about how the hell that happened. “[Tom] wrote a parody book about George W. Bush, and he sent one to my publicist ‘cause he said he listened to the Hold Steady all the time while he was writing. I called him, we met up, and found out we both really like sports, and started going to a lot of New York Rangers games together. We wanted to do something together for a while, and we couldn’t figure out what until we got this idea.” The first step was getting Klosterman’s approval. “We had a meeting and it might have been a little awkward for Chuck, because we asked, 'Can we do it?' And he said, 'Well, how are you gonna do it?' And we were like, 'We just wanna know if we can do it.'"

Klosterman did sign off, and Finn and Ruprecht knocked the script out this August while Ruprecht had a break from Letterman. “We’d get together every day at noon and write till six. We had one computer in the room and one notebook, and we’d alternate scenes. I’d write a scene on the computer, then he’d look at it and make any changes; meanwhile he’d be writing a scene in the notebook that he’d type up, and I’d look at it, make any changes. We could probably do four scenes a day.” As far as the content itself, they used the book as a “jumping-off point, taking a couple stories and weaving them into a much bigger story about a kid who isn’t necessarily Chuck Klosterman.” Some of Finn’s own youthful shenanigans made it into the final product: “Being a Midwestern teenager and being into rock-and-roll, it was pretty easy to think about myself, as well.” Now the script is out for sale, and Finn and Ruprecht are waiting to see what comes of it. “In the end, even if nothing happens it’s a really cool experience,” Finn says. “And I always know I can do another one.”