Bright Lights, Big City Movie Adaptation Will Leave the Eighties Behind

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Photo: Patrick McMullan

Josh Schwartz's Bright Lights, Big City adaptation will likely take place in semi-contemporary New York City — 2007 — instead of the novelized eighties. Though Schwartz has always had a fascination with eighties New York, author Jay McInerney said the film's backers "think of [Schwartz] as being the guy who really understands contemporary New York," and they have recently been convincing the young director to set the film in pre-recession, turn-of-the-millennium Manhattan. We spoke with him at a party in his honor at the Montauk Yacht Club on Saturday, which was hosted by the Accompanied Literary Society and celebrity couple Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy. Schwartz isn't opposed to shifting the timing: "He just reread it and found absolutely no reason that it couldn't be 2007, like right before the crash," McInerney said. "Tad Allegash could work at Lehman Brothers. It's not like nightclubs went away. New York still exists. People still lose their wives and their mothers still die, and that's really what the book is about at its core." McInerney said he would be flattered by a contemporary adaptation: "Sometimes it frustrates me that people think it's a book about the eighties. Nobody used the term 'the eighties' back in 1983 when I wrote the damn thing. I mean, it's just a book about a guy coming to New York and getting his heart broken and losing his job. It's universal stuff. I didn't write it to self-destruct in 1989."