The news that the screenwriting team behind Mark Wahlberg's The Fighter bought the rights to a story about the Boston Marathon bombing — before Ben Affleck, no less — was met with predictable cries of too soon. "It was the same thing with United 93 and Zero Dark Thirty," said Boston Herald reporter Dave Wedge, whose forthcoming book on the attacks with true crime writer Casey Sherman, Boston Strong, was optioned before a word was written. "I think a lot of it is just bloggers who feel the need to be snarky and try to get readers. I understand that they have a job to do, but I lived this." Besides, he told Daily Intelligencer, a movie is a long way off.
"We don't have our main characters yet," said Wedge, who lives in Dorchester. "They may be the Watertown police officers; it could be some of the victims who were running the race — that's all stuff we need to flesh out."
Wedge covered the bombing for the Herald as it happened but didn't think about writing a book until a friend, an NYPD officer he met while reporting on the September 11 attacks, suggested it: "When all this marathon stuff happened, he was the first person who texted me," Wedge explained. "He said, 'Take good notes because you're going to write a book about this.' I did what he said, and I took really meticulous notes thinking, maybe ten years from now, if I write a book, maybe I'll include this."
Sherman, whose book The Finest Hours was previously sold to the same screenwriters and is currently in development, wanted to act much sooner. "He posted something on Facebook [about writing a book]," said Wedge. "I liked his Facebook post and said give me a call."
Both the book and movie deals were made on "just a short pitch sheet," he said. "They're buying my reporting skills and Casey's storytelling skills."
While they're still in the early stages of gathering material, the manuscript is due at the end of January. "Every four or five chapters we'll ship 'em over to [screenwriters Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy] and they'll start doing their adaption," he said. "That's basically how The Social Network worked [with Ben Mezrich's book The Accidental Billionaires], and that went well, so that's the blueprint."
"It doesn't make me happy that people think it's a cash grab, and I understand it to a degree," Wedge added, "but people have to remember that the movie is five, if not seven years away." And it's not about glorifying violence. "It's certainly not a story about terrorists — we're not interested in telling the story of the Tsarnaev brothers. Someone else can do that," he said. "My storytelling gut tells me that there will be a big Hollywood scene about the bombing. But it's not going to be 90 minutes of people getting their legs blown off."
"We're focused on the inspirational side of what happened," Wedge insisted, his Boston accent coming through. "We're all from here."