November 22, 2006
Be More Chill Movie News

Big news. I am now working with Steve Pink on the Be More Chill screenplay, and we're ramping it up quite a bit. That means a major setting change from the book, but the same basic plot and characters. It also means that I am getting my hands dirty and writing a screenplay -- dialogue, action, the whole deal. Working with Steve is wonderful and we're going to have something done soon. And it's going to be hilarious. Rock on.

Back from the Accepted set!

Man, I had a great time in old LA, with the one glaring exception, the thing that gets me every time: the city always makes me vomit. Last time I went there (March 2005), I admittedly abused my body in an all-night party (jumping off a roof into a pool, among other things) and woke up the next day with my head on fire. I somehow managed to drive my friends to work and then to get a large coffee mocha with orange shavings on it, but about two hours into my drive to my meeting with Steve Pink and the Depth of Field folks, I got the urge to vomit in my car.

Not wanting to embarass myself by throwing up out a window on Sunset Boulevard, I, uh, attempted to throw up in an Aquafina bottle.

See, I kind of thought that I could purse my lips and vomit; I didn't realize that part of the process is the involuntary dilation of the lip musculature. I assumed that the only reason I hadn't pulled off this feat before was that I hadn't tried.

Well, suffice to say, I filled up the Aquafina bottle, but I also threw up all over my rental car and my pants. It supposedly NEVER rains in LA but when I was there (as was the case six months later, in the trip that I have gone way way way far off on a tangent in describing), it was pouring Pacific buckets. I got out of my car, cupped rainwater from a gutter and used it to wash off my pants, and went into the GAP looking for one thing: a pair of size 10 dark women's jeans. I got them and got to my meeting, still nauseous, still with a nuclear brain, and what did the good folks at Depth of Field have laid out for me? Sushi.

I couldn't eat it (even though I usually love it, and I'd asked for it a week before). I begged out with a stomach ailment and drank green tea insead.

So... six months later, on my next trip to LA, I had some similar derelict experiences. But I'd like to report that everything on the set of Accepted was groovy as can be.

Yes, there was at least one piece of funny Hollywood gossip to go around, but I'm not putting it here--you have to have my phone # to get it. Mostly I was shocked by how Steve Pink, who I met TWO YEARS AGO now, has become a take-charge director, filming scenes with 500 extras and barking "Okay, let's go, let's go" and wearing his hat backwards and just kicking ass and taking names.

Also, Justin Long, Jonah Hill, and the rest of the cast were very cool. And I got to meet Alejandra Gutierrez.

I do have a few cool stories to report.

First off, when I got to the set on Monday, 9/19/05, I was surprised to find myself at a psych hospital (man, recurring theme in my life). Turns out that in the movie, the main character turns an old psych hospital into a college campus (when he doesn't get admitted to any other schools), so this was appropriate.

As I came on set (7am, guys in white beards drinking coffee, gaffers moving lighting equipment around), I asked someone in a knit cap, "Where's the food?"

I knew there had to be some free food.

"Food's in base camp. Downstairs."

I went downstairs and... figured that this was where all the mental patients in the hospital had been relocated to! There were people sleeping on the floor, people lipping cigarettes, people rubbing red eyes...

Then I realized that these were the extras for the movie.

It's a whole culture, extras. I quickly fell in with them, in particular a guy named Patrick. Patrick works for The Bat Pack; they're a "calling service" that you phone up if you need, say, a half-dozen extras with nose rings or spiky hair.

Patrick was awesome (I gave him a signed BMC) and two days later I went to a party he was DJing where I saw the most uncanny Nirvana tribute band imaginable. They sounded like them, too.

The day after hanging with the Nirvana tribute band (Penny Royale) and Patrick, I threw up. See how it comes full circle?

Okay, so celebrity sightings, if you must know:

1. Lewis Black is in Accepted, so I saw him. Mostly on his cell phone. His road manager, Ben, was very cool.

2. Kyle MacLachlan from Twin Peaks was in the indy bookstore Book Soup while I was in there.

That about wraps it up. Here's to Accepted. If the on-set vibe is any indication, it should be a hit.

Here's the story so far on the Be More Chill movie, which many people have asked about.

First of all, it's not set in stone that the movie is getting made, so don't get all craaazy just yet. (See the Teen Angst account of my failed media history with that book.)

However, right now we have a tremendous slate of behind-the-camera talent behind a Be More Chill movie. This means we have a writer, director, and producers, but no stars yet and no studio, and also no script. Here's the story:

1. Before the book even came out (i.e. in fall 2003), it got sent in manuscript form around Los Angeles. The guy who loved it most was a very funny and intelligent screenwriter named Steve Pink. Steve wrote the screenplay to Grosse Pointe Blank and worked on the High Fidelity adaptation.

2. Steve is at this level in his life where he can make like, lots of $$$ rewriting shark scripts, but he wants to do something more substantial, namely, to direct. He saw Be More Chill as the perfect movie to write/direct and he really dug where the book was coming from.

3. Since directors alone do not a film make, my agency (William Morris) set Steve up with The Weitz Brothers, the writer-directors behind American Pie and now producers and directors of several fine movies with their production company, Depth of Field.

4. The Weitz Brothers and Steve got together to option the film. Then they went to pitch it to studios (spring 2004).

5. The pitches didn't fly, principally because a lot of the material in the book (the nipple-ring scene, the party scene) is actually R-rated. That means that Be More Chill would be an R-rated movie for teenagers, which is pretty risky since R movies can only be seen by 17+ people. (And since the South Park movie came out in 1998, they actually enforce this.) Additionally, in a tacit agreement between the government and the movie industry, R movies don't get advertised on prime-time network TV. There was also resistance to a "pill" making you cool--studio heads equate pills with drugs and it's risky to do a teen drug movie.

6. To their immense credit, Steve Pink and the Weitz Brothers stuck by the book after that first failed round of pitches. They committed to--for free, essentially--develop a complete BMC script and then try to sell the finished product to movie studios. Selling a script is very different (and much easier) than selling a concept. In one scenario, the studio is paying the production company a lot of money to come up with a script that may or may not be good (and the screenwriter could always freak out and end up in the psych hospital while writing it). On the other hand, if the script is there, it's a simple yes or no, and the studio knows what they're getting into.

7. Steve began working on the BMC script. I'm not going to divulge all the ideas here, but yes there is a lot of stuff that's different from the book and I'm very happy about all of it. In the movie, we get to meet the inventor of the squip, learn how it powers itself, and see what ever happened to Michael Mell's brother, who had a squip before Jeremy did. Also, and most importantly of all, we get a closing chapter to the Jeremy-Christine saga.

8. In March 2005, Steve called me--out of the blue, he'd been given a chance to direct a major teen comedy for Universal, with a budget of about $25 million dollars! In the near term, that meant he wouldn't be doing the BMC script, becuase he had to film a freakin' movie, but in the long term that meant he wouldn't have the "first-time director" stigma and he'd know that much more about directing when the time came to do BMC, his planned second project.

9. The movie that Steve Pink is currently directing, with a release date of April 2006, is called Accepted. It stars Jason Long from Dodgeball and Blake Lively from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

10. Steve intends to go headlong into finishing the BMC script when Accepted wraps. I'm answering his questions, helping him along, and giving him feedback. We hope to have BMC sold and filming in summer 2006.

Ned Vizzini | Official Site
It's Kind of a Funny Story - Hardcover
April 1, 2006
"The book is TERRIFIC I just loved it and will recommend it all over the place to teen and adult readers. You have a unique ability to convey deep and complicated feeling through simple, funny and sweet prose." -- Rachel Cohn, author of Gingerbread, Shrimp, The Steps, and Two Steps Forward

"I wanted to tell you how much I liked It's Kind of a Funny Story. Your descriptions of depression are so accurate and heartbreaking. One of my favorite metaphors was on the first page when you describe trying to talk like words coming out in chunks from a crushed-ice dispenser. So true." -- Ariel Schrag, creator of the graphic novels Awkward, Definition, Potential, and Likewise

It's Kind of a Funny Story is my third book. It's the story of Craig Gilner, a kid in high school who gets freaked out, wants to kill himself, and checks into the psych hospital. The book details the week he spends there and how he gets his life... well, not together. But alive.

It's based, not too loosely, on my own experience on the good ol' adult psychiatric floor of Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, which I entered when I wanted to kill myself in November 2004. Yay! I've managed to stay out since then, although I've wanted to go back many a time.

There is a Myspace for the book at Press for the book is posted as it appears right here.
Be More Chill - US Paperback
September 14, 2005

[click cover for hi-res image]

Be More Chill is the story of a guy who gets a pill that makes him cool. The pill is called a "squip"--it's actually a quantum computer that lives in your brain and gives you real-time social advice. The kid is named Jeremy Heere. And that's about what you need to know.

"A fresh, spontaneous and original voice. It's fun, wacky, outrageous. I just couldn't stop reading."
-- Judy Blume

For more about the squip itself and the campaign that went along with it, watch the squip video (warning--it may take a while to load).
Be More Chill - US Hardcover
June 1, 2004
"I wish I'd had a squip when I was a teenager. Actually, I wish I had one now. You know what? Forget the squip. Reading this hilarious book is what will make you cool."
-- Neal Pollack

"Ned Vizzini writes about teenagers without the Saved by the Bell, 'boy I sure love pizza' clichs. Be More Chill is a funny, perceptive, and surprisingly well-written read for all ages."
-- Robert Lanham, author, The Hipster Handbook

"I thought Be More Chill was very funny, well observed and well written. Very clever story, beautifully executed - definitely one to take notice of, and one of the cleverest plots I've come across in a long time."
-- Melvin Burgess, author, Smack

"Authentic without pretense and honest without stifling morality."
-- Zoe Trope

"Authentic, refreshingly honest and hilarious. You have perfectly captured the angst-filled, sex-obsessed thoughts of today's teens. Also, it is an incredibly original plot."
-- Anne Rouyer, the New York Public Library

"As a two-time survivor of high school (once as a student and once as a teacher), I know how hard it is to write about adolescence. But Ned Vizzini gets it right-- the lingo, the rigid caste system, the minutiae of teen courtship rituals. Be More Chill shows that high school can be a hero's journey, a treacherous march through minefields of bullies, drugs, and unfairly complicated bra straps. A smart, funny book that shies away from sentimentality and clich, Be More Chill handles powerful themes with a light touch."
-- David Benioff, author, The 25th Hour

"Be More Chill is a sharp social commentary disguised as a high school sex (or no sex, in our hero's case) comedy. I was thoroughly entertained by Vizzini's clever take on the insanity (and inanity) of contemporary teendom."
-- Megan McCafferty, author, Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings
Teen Angst? Naaah... - Yellow
August 1, 2000
Published by Free Spirit Publishing!

One of the things that people asked for on this site site was more attention paid to Teen Angst? Naaah.... I hope this satisfies:

1. Teen Angst? Naaah... is my first book.

2. When it came out, I learned quickly that if I described it as "a bunch of funny, stupid stories about stuff that happened to me in high school", they got the point. For more refined people who only enjoyed art that pushed the envelope, I would say it was "a bunch of funny, stupid stories about SHIT that happened to me in high school." Those remain good descriptions.

3. The stories in the book span 1990-1999.

4. I wrote the stories between 1996 and 1999, inclusive.

5. A majority of the book originally appeared in the New York Press, a local alternative weekly, sometimes edited differently or in a wildly divergent form. They have great archives so many of the stories as they were originally originally written are here.

6. Teen Angst? Naaah... has a typical history of complete failure in the world of television. Soon after the book came out, I was contacted by a man named John Schultz, who came to New York, took me out for a hamburger, and outlined a sweeping vision for the TA?N movie. (The burger was good too.) I left feeling enthusiastic. Then, a few weeks later, Jane startz Productions, who had a first-look deal with Miramax Films (this just meant I could say "Miramax" in conjunction with my book, which got me one girl, no more), offered to option the book. My book company and I went with Jane Startz because of the Miramax connection and the option began. An option means that a company pays for the right to try and make a television show (or movie) out of your product within a certain period of time. We had 18 months. Jane Startz Productions brought in a wonderful gentleman named Ken Lipman; he had helmed the mid-90s cable show The Secret World of Alex Mack, which, let's look for it on the internet... ah, check out this Geocities site: Gallery of Alex Mack Pictures. Ken Lipman got to work on the show but we failed to get it picked up by any networks. Some years later (2005), Ken decided to take another shot and sell the show to The N cable network, which, in an entirely unrelated venture, I had tried to create music for. This, too, failed. By the way, John Schultz, who we ditched for Jane Startz (Schultz vs. Startz, I know), went on to direct Like Mike and The Honeymooners. Who knows what would have happened if we'd gone with him? Right now the best chance of a Teen Angst television show getting made is if you make one yourself. I'll host it, I'm serious. (Host as in, host the files.)

7. Any general questions that you have about the book, the characters, whether it's true, etc. should be in the FAQ.

8. Many people want to know why, of all the schools I applied to in the book, I chose to go to Hunter. The answer is that I did something horrible and screwed up my chance attend a different school (Columbia). What I did is probably the worst and most stupid thing that I've done in my life and I'm not really ready to talk about it right now.

9. To my knowledge, Teen Angst? Naaah... has been used in plays, forensics competitions, skits, and numerous book reports across the USA (and the Philippines). I greatly appreciate the attention that it continues to get, especially five-plus years after its publication.

10. Wormwhole lives!
© Ned Vizzini 2000-2006
Favorite Parts
send in your own

Rachel of FL says: My grandma bought me this book for my birthday and I thought it was absolutely fantastic. I saved it till school started (8-14-06) and i read it all week the first week of school. Instead of paying attention in class i read ur book instead. Sad I know but it was so good i couldn't put it down. Your book has my friends grasping for it but I don't know what i would do if i lost it. This book was great! oh yeah, favorite part. hmm thats a toughie. It would have to be the part wherehe goes to the party and takes ecstacy and the spuip speaks spanish to him. that is absolutely hilarious. anyway great novels IKOAFS was great to. we read that one in my class last year for an asignment and that was my favorite assignment all year! ~*~Rachel
Rachel's myspace

Jack of CA says: my favorite part of BE MORE CHILL is when he stops in the middle of the play and tells Christine about his affection towards her. I was so pissed cuz it was so stupid for him to listen to the squip and think that Christine would some how fall in love with him.

Brandon of CA says: i have two favorite parts in the book but heres one of them. When jeremy first gets the squip and the squip is teaching him about proper posture. and then jeremy says to the squip "i feel gay" and the squip says "the gayer it feels the better".
Brandon's myspace

Jonathan of AR says: I just finished reading your latest one, that was hilarious, favorite part: near the end where Craig was making out with Noelle and he says " it really does feel like a cheek" between that and some of the beginning: wonderful . And Be More Chill, gotta love the parties and when he first gets the pill, and let me see, Teen Angst? Naaah... I loved the prom part, the parts of it when you talk about your family and stuff.

Alexis of VA says: I was in the Barnes and Noble in Richmond, Virginia the day you came to sign books. However, I was there about four hours too early. There was a massive display of your work and I picked this book up and bought it. It looked like an interesting, funny book of things that had actually happened to you. I did want to read it in four hours and come back and ask you all kinds of questions, but that didn't work out too well. I love the book so far. I'm only about a third of the way done but it has made me laugh out loud more than a few times. I'm going to look forward to finishing it but at the same time, not. This book has me reading it every free time I have and I love your writing style. So this is a thank you and a praise all in one. Come back to the Richmond area soon if you can. Keep on truckin' too.
Alexis's blog
Alexis's myspace

Rowell of RI says: My favorite part of Be More Chill, is when Mr. Reyes speaks in his falsetto voice "Maaaaaa!", when I try to imagine it, I can't help laughing. This is my favorite book. No Doubt. Im going to try Jimmy Heere's squip moves on some of the ladies.. :) "Maaaa!"
Rowell's myspace

Violet of NY says: my favorite part of the book was... oh, let's see... THE WHOLE THING, aka my LIFE! I live in Park Slope, took the Stuy Test, attend Pure Energy Martial Arts (Tessa Gordon's still there), and have done numerous other things that you describe in Teen Angst?Naah...
Never have i identified more with a boook than with this one. I read books for escape, but it's like escaping right back into... you guessed it, My Life!

Kathleen of United Kingdom says: I didnt have a favorite part of this book, it was all amazing, i know that I am going to read this book over and over.
Kathleen's website
Picture 11.jpg

Matthew of New Zealand says: My favourite aspect of both Be More Chill and Teen Angst? Naaah is that the parents (particularly the dads) are portrayed as decent people who are even funny and understanding, rather than as the hysterical losers/ screw up parents that are so ubiquitous in books aimed at young adults.

Janine of CA says: I would say my favourite part would be the whole Aunt Linda
conversation. I mean, I can totally relate. My family acts the same
way. And its the plot revealer... where he's just really honest (...and kinda harsh) about how he sees himself. It's the point where the book
really takes a surrealist turn.

That's my two cents... and more.

Want to send in your favorite part?