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Vulture Exclusive: Gossip Girl’s Josh Schwartz to Remake Endless Love

Vulture has learned that Josh Schwartz, co-creator of Gossip Girl, The OC, and Chuck, will be remaking Franco Zeffirelli's Endless Love for Universal Pictures. The 1981 original (a bomb that's only claim to fame was the eponymous hit duet by Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie) starred a 14-year-old Brooke Shields as Jade Butterworth, a smoldering sexpot so hotly desired by her 17-year-old lover that, after being prevented from seeing her, he burns down her family's home in an effort to reinsert himself into their lives. (If filmed in 3-D, you'll be able to see the hormones shoot right out at you!)

Calls to Schwartz's reps weren't returned, so instead we decided to check in with Scott Spencer, who wrote the best-selling source novel. (His latest book, A Man in the Woods, will be published this September.) Reached at his upstate New York home, Spencer noted that Schwartz had also recently been hired by MGM to remake another eighties flop of a literary adaptation, Bright Lights, Big City. Joked Spencer, "It almost seems as though Josh is trying to undo the mistakes of the early and mid-eighties."

The author offered his own theory as to why Endless Love the film failed even as the novel went on to sell 2 million copies. "Their mistake was making it a 'cautionary tale,'" insists Spencer, now 65. "In the posters, the tagline was 'The love every parent fears,' but in the novel, it really was more, 'The love every parent envies.' … They also hired a director of Italian operas [Zeffirelli] to make it, so any nuances of social or cultural observation went out the window. The result was a teenage make-out movie that was too tasteful: People who loved the book were furious; people who came to be turned on got lectured. Everybody went home dissatisfied."

But while the original Endless Love suffered for being unfavorably compared to his novel, Spencer now feels the movie has actually improved with age — though not for obvious reasons. "At the time, it was held up as the travesty of all Hollywood literary adaptations," asserts Spencer, dryly. "But movies have become even more mediocre since then. So now, it's really more like it's only in the bottom third."