Monday, October 11, 2021

Sue Grafton Sold Out

By Linda L. Richards
Sue Grafton, the internationally bestselling author of the Alphabet Mysteries (who died in 2017), hated Hollywood. And it wasn’t a random dislike: Prior to her success as a novelist, Grafton spent years working in the film industry, an experience that led to her making an oath that she would never sell Kinsey Millhone, the ex-cop private eye who was the protagonist in her 25-book series, to Hollywood.

When I interviewed her in 1997, Grafton was emphatic on this point. “I will never sell [Kinsey] to Hollywood,” she declared. “And, I have made my children promise not to sell her. We’ve taken a blood oath, and if they do so I will come back from the grave: which they know I can do. They’re going to have to pass the word on to my grandchildren: we do not sell out our grandma. I just will not let them touch her.”

That interview was widely quoted last week, when the announcement came that Kinsey had, in fact, been sold out. From Deadline:
In a very competitive situation with multiple bidders, A+E Studios has landed the exclusive rights to #1 New York Times-bestselling author Sue Grafton’s alphabet book series featuring private investigator protagonist Kinsey Millhone. Under the pact, the studio can develop and produce the entire library of Grafton’s wildly popular alphabet mysteries for television.

This marks the first time the screen rights to the book series has been made available, with Steve Humphrey, Grafton’s husband for more than 40 years, serving as executive producer on the adaptations.
Humphrey himself spoke to this decision in a statement posted on Grafton’s Facebook page and in a statement from A+E: “Television has greatly evolved since Sue was writing in Hollywood in the 1980s. From her experience then, she was concerned that her stories and characters would be diminished when they were adapted. But as the power of television has transformed over time, so too has the quality from writing and acting to the production values and viewing experience.”

I’m guessing Grafton’s descendants are now ducking and running, wary of her spirit making a reproachful appearance.

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Linda L. Richards, the author of Endings, is also a Rap Sheet contributing editor.


Todd Mason said...

Z is for Zero Shame?

Brian Busby said...

"Television has greatly evolved since Sue was writing in Hollywood in the 1980s."

I'm sure she recognized as much.

Has it changed so much in the four years since her death?

Kevin Burton Smith said...

When I interviewed her for MYSTERY SCENE only a few years before she died, arguably at the height of the "New Golden Age of Television" (of which she was very much aware), her opinion remained pretty much the same, something along the lines of "I've worked in film and television. I won't ever let those idiots near Kinsey." It was a long and rambling conversation and often quite frank--she may have used a stronger word than "idiots."

Bob said...

Is the headline "Sue Grafton Sold Out" really accurate? Isn't it her family?

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Hey, Bob:

The intention of the headline was to convey that Sue Grafton has been sold out (by her family), not that she herself did the selling.