Jolie’s desire to play Scarpetta has revived prospects of a movie franchise that could begin shooting as early as next fall. In a surprise, Fox 2000 has decided to jettison the books in favor of an origins story written directly for the screen. Set in the present day (as opposed to the late 1980s, when the series begins), the film will feature a distinctly younger Scarpetta in the years before she becomes the steely, unassailable expert pathologist she is today.
I gave up on Patricia Cornwell’s fiction years ago, but it looks as if her self-centered and shrill medical examiner, Kay Scarpetta, may finally find her way to a movie screen near you.
I have reservations about the plan to produce “an origins story written directly for the screen,” however. Remember what happened to Sara Paretsky’s female detective V.I. Warshawski in the movie that starred Kathleen Turner? That film combined pieces of several of Paretsky’s novels into one screenplay that completely missed the point on V.I.’s character and made her into a laughingstock rather than a feminist icon. And mystery author Sue Grafton, who used to write for Hollywood, has promised that her popular female detective Kinsey Millhone will never appear on the big screen because Grafton knows what can happen in the translation from one medium to the other.
But then, it will be difficult to make Scarpetta a worse character than Cornwell herself has done already.