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Having cut short an already legendary career, the death of Marilyn Monroe in 1962 was a tragedy to her fans, Hollywood at large, and any who looked upon Tinsel Town's glamor with the same starry-eyed wonder as a young Norma Jean once did. The coroner's report determined Monroe's death was caused by an overdose on barbiturates, and ruled a "probable suicide." But this simple, sad solution was unthinkable to some, and a dark inspiration to others.
J.I. Baker's recently released novel The Empty Glass blends facts and fiction to turn Monroe's tragic end into a vivid murder mystery. The story centers on Ben Fitzgerald, a Los Angeles County deputy coroner who arrives at the star's luxurious home to find her strewn across her bed, naked, dead and still cradling a telephone. He also finds her diary, and in its pages he discovers Monroe was engaged in a romance with a man she only refers to as "The General." As he digs deeper into her Book of Secrets, he becomes obsessed with a possible paranoid conspiracy theory.
In short, The Empty Glass has a plotline crying out for a movie adaptation, and THR reveals Winkler Films has already optioned the book. Irwin and David Winkler will produce the film and have hired Baker to draft the screenplay. David Winkler, who produced The Mechanic, admits they have high aspirations for the thriller, insisting, " The Empty Glass reads like a Billy Wilder screenplay. It's got suspense, action and dramatic plot turns that will appeal to great directors, and rich dialogue that will attract great actors.”
The mention of Wilder immediately makes me want to pick up the novel, but movies about the seedy underbelly of real Hollywood scandals are frequently flops. Both Hollywoodland and The Cat's Meow, which focused on the mysterious deaths of Superman star George Reeves and film mogul Tom Ince respectively, did fine by critics but tanked at the box office, while 2006's The Black Dahlia failed on both fronts. This may mean the odds are stacked against The Empty Glass, but the pick of a director who could shake up this speculative subgenre might make all the difference.