Sunday, April 14, 2024

EXCLUSIVE Maggie Gyllenhaal? Kate Hudson? Who Should Star in the Movie of Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying”?


In over 40 years no one has ever been able to turn Erica Jong’s classic 1973 bestselling novel of sexual liberation, “Fear of Flying,” into a movie.

Many have tried. My late friend producer Julia Phillips wanted to direct the book with Goldie Hawn playing the heroine, Isadora Wing, who travels all over the world looking for “the zipless f—.” Julia wrote the entire hilarious saga of not making that movie in her bestseller, “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again.” After what seemed like decades of a tug of war with everyone in Hollywood, including a lawsuit with Erica Jong, Julia finally surrendered. The movie was never made.

Three years ago there was some kind of announcement that producer Donald Kushner had director Laurie Collyer and they were going to do it. Again, it never materialized.

But now I can tell you that “Fear of Flying” will fly at Columbia Pictures, where Julia set it up with Ray Stark and David Begelman in 1973. Alas, Collyer is gone. In her place is Tanya Wexler, whose 2011 movie about the invention of the vibrator, called “Hysteria,” was an indie hit. Kushner is still the producer. No stars’ name has been mentioned so far, but I think Hawn’s daughter, Kate Hudson, would be perfect. And wouldn’t that be poetic justice? Wexler might opt for Maggie Gyllenhaal, who starred in “Hysteria.”

Jong is working with Wexler and screenwriters Piers Ashworth and Shauna Cross to get the right screenplay. But I do hear that Jong, who last fall published a sequel called “Fear of Dying,” is struggling with them “to get the right tone. Isadora’s tale has been updated from the 70s to current times.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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