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Sideways 2 film unlikely, says author

Sideways author Rex Pickett says director Alexander Payne fears making a sequel to the hit 2004 film will be 'selling out'.

Pickett: ‘there’s money to be made’

Payne, whose film of Pickett’s book was a worldwide hit which propelled both him and his anti-hero Paul Giamatti to stardom, is no longer answering his emails, Pickett told Decanter.com.

‘I think he sees himself as a guy leaving a cinematic legacy. He thinks the sequel is selling out,’ said Pickett, who has written a sequel to Sideways, Vertical, which he’s keen to see on the big screen.

‘Alexander Payne read Vertical and he loved it but he said that he didn’t want to do a sequel,’ Pickett said. He said he respects the director, but can’t understand his intransigence.

‘There are 13m people out there who want to see this. There’s a lot of money on the table [to be made]. It’s a no-brainer. I mean, someone made Sex and the City 2.’

Payne is seen as key to a film of Vertical, which continues a wine theme and follows the same characters as Sideways several years down the line.

Fox Searchlight owns the rights to Sideways characters Miles and Jack and also has first-look rights on Payne’s projects. ‘If Payne doesn’t endorse it, it’s a non-starter for Fox,’ Pickett said.

Sideways itself lay unpublished until Payne bought the rights and transformed it into an Oscar-winning film in 2004. Fox Searchlight took a punt on the script after Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks rejected it.

In wine terms, Sideways is credited with creating a worldwide demand for Pinot Noir that endures to this day, and damaging Merlot sales. Miles is an evangelist for Pinot but loathes Merlot.

For now, Pickett is throwing himself into a stage adaptation of Sideways, produced by Ruskin Group Theatre Co and showing to full houses in Santa Monica, California.

‘There’s so much more heart and soul in the play,’ said Pickett, who is enjoying his chance to reassert authority over his story. ‘I love the film but I didn’t get a lot of recognition for the novel. I wasn’t invited to awards dinners.’

The way the film seemed to appear out of nowhere was ‘like the Immaculate Conception’, he said.

The international clamour for Sideways: The Play is building, Pickett says, reigniting interest in the film, which tells the story of a last wine road trip of the ill-fated Miles and soon-to-be-married Jack.

A run in the barrel room of a 700-acre Sonoma vineyard is ‘almost definitely’ coming next, and ‘we are fielding offers from as far away as Chile and Australia’, Pickett says, adding that he also talking to potential partners in the UK.

Written by Chris Mercer

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