EXCLUSIVE: ‘Too Cool To Be Forgotten’ Producer Talks Adaptation, Casting And Top Shelf Deal

Way back in June 2009, we brought you the exclusive news that Alex Robinson’s graphic novel “Too Cool To Be Forgotten” was headed to the big screen with “Synecdoche, New York” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” producer Anthony Bregman attached to the adaptation.

The report was confirmed with the recent announcement that “Too Cool” publisher Top Shelf Productions entered an agreement with Bregman and media entrepreneur John S. Johnson giving the duo 33-percent ownership and the first look at all new Top Shelf projects for TV and film development. Their first project targeted for adaptation will be Robinson’s tale of a middle-aged father who accidentally travels back in time to his teenage years, and must decide between reliving the mistakes of his awkward years or changing his future and erasing the life he knew.

I caught up with Bregman for a chat about his plans for “Too Cool To Be Forgotten” and more info about the Top Shelf deal.

MTV: Before we get into the deal, I have to tell you that “Too Cool” was one of the first subjects of our “Adapt This” feature here on Splash Page, urging filmmakers to check out certain books for adaptation…

ANTHONY BREGMAN: I remember — that’s right! So I don’t need to tell you how great of a book it is.

MTV: Since I’m pretty sure “Too Cool” was already on your radar before we wrote about it here, what first attracted you to the book?

BREGMAN: What really feels unique about it is that it’s very surprising where the story goes. It takes a genre that we’re familiar with — the whole “I fall asleep and then I wake up and I’m in high school again” thing — and it gives it such an incredible, emotional bang for that experience. It’s something you’ve never really seen in those “17 Again”-type movies. And that’s what we’re shooting for. It has a lot in common with another film I did, “Eternal Sunshine,” where it took another high-concept mechanism and squeezes a much more complicated and emotional story out of it.

It pretends to be familiar and then it really surprises you with how deep and how moving this familiar trope can become.

MTV: Do you have any actors or directors in mind? I know when I wrote it up for “Adapt This,” it felt like a Michael Cera type of thing…

BREGMAN: It’s going to depend ultimately on the writer and director’s take on the story. As you know, most of the movie takes place with a younger guy, but not all of it. Part of the fun of this movie could be — and I’m not sure this is the way we to go, but it’s the sort of discussions we’re having — one way is to age up someone like Michael Cera and set him loose as the younger version. The other way is to take someone like Owen Wilson or Vince Vaughn and not really young them down, but put them in the younger person’s clothes and work off the comedy of having an older person’s psychology in an a younger person’s situation. It really depends on the director’s take on the story.

MTV: When you think about potential directors, is there a visual style or approach that “Too Cool” lends itself to in your mind?

BREGMAN: We’re actually talking to a number of people right now. … We’re looking for people who are able to tell a funny story and at the same time an emotional story.

MTV: How did the deal with Top Shelf come about?

BREGMAN: The reason why I first got in touch with [Top Shelf publisher] Chris Staros is, a long time ago I wanted to option the book “Blankets,” which is one of my favorite graphic novels of all time. It’s brilliant and we wanted to turn it into a movie, but we couldn’t. I think the writer didn’t want to go down the film-adaptation route. But it got me talking to Chris and introduced me to his taste in comics and graphic novels — which is literature, essentially.

MTV: Are there any other Top Shelf books that look promising at the moment?

BREGMAN: They have a great library, but the deal that we put together is going forward, with upcoming projects.

MTV: Even though things are still at a very early stage, do you have a timetable worked up? Is there a certain year when you’d like to see “Too Cool” arrive in theaters? Is there a date you’d like to see production start?

BREGMAN: I hope soon. The development process is always a tricky thing because it doesn’t have the same timetable that you’re dealing with in production.

MTV: How involved will Alex Robinson be in the project? Will he have a role in the process?

BREGMAN: Absolutely. He lives right here in New York. We always involve the writers in the process to the extent that they want to be involved, because they always have something great to add.

MTV: And just because you brought it up, “Blankets” is a favorite for many comics fans, so I have to ask: how close did it come to being adapted?

BREGMAN: The writer didn’t want it to become a film. Of course, my inclination is not to agree with him, but I can understand that — because it really exists in its perfect form right now. When you adapt something, you’re always changing it. If you’re not changing it , you’re not doing a good job of adapting it.

Too Cool To Be Forgotten” is available now from Top Shelf Productions.

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