Hollywood’s most literate producer Scott Rudin (so literate he lives in New York) is becoming even more intertwined with the book world, hiring publishing veteran John Schoenfelder to run development at his company for him. Schoenfelder comes with a varied, though recently troubled, pedigree: He’s served time at St. Martin’s Press and then Little Brown, which last year made him editor of its new imprint, Mulholland Books. Dedicated to “suspense fiction,” Mulholland launched last April and ran into trouble seven months later with its eleventh book, Q.R. Markham’s Assassin of Secrets; the well-reviewed novel had to be recalled after evidence emerged that the author had plagiarized from Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum, and Charles McCarry.*
It’s not such a surprise that Rudin would go for someone from the publishing world: He has been Hollywood’s most prolific and reliable adapter of highbrow bestsellers for the screen. Last year, he produced Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and his adaptations of Charles Portis’ True Grit and Michael Cunningham’s The Hours likewise garnered Best Picture Oscar nominations in 2010 and 2003, while his production of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men won the Best Picture Oscar in 2008. (And those are just Rudin’s Oscar-nominated pictures: HBO is currently shooting Rudin’s production of Jonathan Franzen’s National Book Award-winning The Corrections as a series, and he has not given up on developing Michael Chabon’s 2001 Pulitzer-winner The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay as a feature film.)
Still, Schoenfelder is a curious choice to run Rudin’s company. In addition to having no prior film experience, the editor also has mostly worked with genre writers rather than the highfalutin’ kind whose works Rudin tends to option. While at Mulholland, Schoenfelder signed action, mystery-crime and spy novelists like Greg Rucka (Queen & Country) and Lawrence Block (author of the 17-book “Matthew Scudder” private eye series. But perhaps this is a sign that after making last year’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Rudin has developed more of a taste for pulp fiction?
* This opening paragraph has been corrected to note that Schoenfelder will be director of development, not running Rudin’s entire company. Also, Assassin of Secrets was Mulholland’s eleventh book, not its first. Also, later in the piece, Alan Glynn’s name has been removed, as he is not a Mulholland writer.