Producers working on the film of the Paris tasting have signed up one of Hollywood’s top screenwriters for the script.
Writer Robert Mark Kamen has signed a deal to adapt George M Taber’s book The Judgment of Paris, the story of the 1976 Paris Tasting, in what Clear Pictures Entertainment call a ‘very meaningful step.’
Clear Pictures’ Elizabeth Fowler and Clark Peterson have optioned rights to the life of Steven Spurrier, who organised the Tasting.
They are also looking to net Keanu Reeves to play Napa winemaker Mike Grgich of Grgich Hills, and ‘would like’ Jude Law or Hugh Grant to play Steven Spurrier, as reported on decanter.com in June this year.
Kamen’s credits include the Lethal Weapon trilogy, the Karate Kid movies, the Fifth Element, a new film called Bandidas with Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek, and A Walk In The Clouds with Keanu Reeves.
The latter was filmed in Kamen’s Sonoma vineyard. The producers feel the fact that the writer is also a winemaker ‘will substantially inform his work’.
Fowler told decanter.com, ‘We feel that his passion for wine and his commercial body of work as a writer will be the perfect mix. He also makes an excellent Cabernet Sauvignon.’
Kamen bought his 100ha vineyard with earnings from his first script. ‘I have an abiding passion for wines, vineyards and the history of wine, with California wine being part and parcel of it,’ he has said.
In 1976 Steven Spurrier – now Decanter’s consultant editor, then a young wine merchant in Paris – invited France’s most eminent critics to blind-taste a selection of French and Californian wines.
Against all expectations the Californians came out top: the 1973 Stags’ Leap Cabernet Sauvignon together with Ridge Montebello Cabernet Sauvignon 1971, were given higher marks than four Bordeaux, including Châteaux Haut-Brion and Mouton-Rothschild 1970.
In May this year Spurrier staged a celebratory re-run of the Tasting simultaneously in Napa and London. The Americans won again.
Fowler said the film will be financed ‘entirely through private equity financing. This gives us much more creative control and ensures that the film will actually be made.’
She added, ‘This is a film about fulfilling dreams. We’ll have a bit in Paris featuring Steven struggling to sell his wine, and showing the Californian winemakers against the French who don’t recognise their ability to produce good wine. So it’s also a film about underdogs.’
Steven Spurrier – after suggesting that Law and Grant would be too old to play his younger self – said, ‘My main feeling is tremendous (and quite surprised) excitement, and of course the underlying fantasy of who will play me and [my wife] Bella and how we will appear. I’m afraid this is uppermost in my mind at this moment, as well of course as how true it will be to what actually was going on in Paris in the early 70s.’
Written by Adam Lechmere