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OUTTAKES THE SEQUEL

Gone Hollywood

September 27, 1987|Ellen Farley

Judith Guest had a Cinderella experience with her first novel, "Ordinary People," about a troubled teen-ager flirting with suicide. She was a Minneapolis housewife and mom with a crush on Robert Redford. Well, the book became a best-seller, then an Oscar-winning movie in the hands of handsome director Redford.

How she's changed. When early attempts sputtered on filming her second book, "Second Heaven," on child abuse, Guest, now 51, turned screenwriter.

"When it came out (in 1982), everyone (at the studios) was interested," Guest said. But a company she won't name reneged on an option deal. Then Guest tangled over creative control with a woman screenwriter interested in an adaptation. "Since you have such definite ideas," said the screenwriter, "why don't you write it yourself?"

She did. Her version has been optioned by Weintraub Entertainment, with Mark Rydell now signed to direct, and she's rewriting. And she's got screen credit on "Rachel River," based on three short stories by author Carol Bly and in search of a distributor.

Guest is simultaneously holed up in a Wisconsin cabin with novelist Rebecca Hill, collaborating on a novel she describes as "a socially responsible murder-mystery."

Can she see it as a movie? "I see everything as a movie now."

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