After my first Mackenzie Griffin mystery (amzn.to/1cRBRDx) was published in the U. S., a London U.K. publisher offered a three book contract, thus happily allowing me to continue conjuring up stories and situations for the next few years.
This was in the mid-to-late 90s, and from time to time (okay, it was actually pretty frequent on my part) I would allow myself to fantasize about the film rights being snatched up by some grateful producer. Actually, it wasn’t so much film rights, it was television rights I was thinking of. A limited series that would recur, or the once-a-year, twice-a-year TV movie. (As you can see, I was already anticipating the programming patterns that were still a few years down the road. Quite the visionary, eh?)
Television was also a better option because I somehow envisioned the Mackenzie Griffin series as a possible updating to Murder, She Wrote with one advantage over that esteemed series: Mackenzie Griffin, as a consultant to the NYPD, would have legitimate access to police cases. This would help avoid what a few of us at various mystery writers’ conventions at the time referred to as the ‘dead guest at every dinner party’ problem.
But one thing that stumped me, even in my fantasies about the series/TV movies, I couldn’t think of a pool of actresses of the appropriate age (late 20s to mid-30s) who would be believable in the role of a criminal psychologist/police consultant. (Remember, this was around the time Denise Richards was cast as a nuclear physicist…)
It became somewhat of a parlor game, and few of my friends or family could detect any young female stars with enough going on behind their eyes to make them believable as holding a doctorate in psychology and a specialty in criminal psychology.
The first one who came to mind was Jennifer Garner, when she shot to fame with her starring role in Alias. Lots going on behind her eyes, that’s for sure. Callista Flockhart and Gillian Anderson were two other possible candidates, but they had good TV gigs going even before Ms. Garner did.
But in the current crop of actresses in that age range, there is a substantial supply of bright young women: Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Blunt, Keira Knightley, Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain, and Michelle Williams all give evidence that there are wheels turning in their brains.
I don’t what know what the difference is. Better pre-natal nutrition 35 years ago? Better casting agents and more women in the process in the last 20 years? Who knows? All I can say is it’s noticeable. Any thoughts?