Bridget Jones, The Bible, Broadway, and Being a writer

Today is going to be a six degrees of seperation for most of my favorite things. We start with the Broadway mood I’ve been in lately. I’ve been itching to hit the theater and do something with it since I haven’t really had exposure to it since I left my theater job in June. When I’m done with this current book I’m working on I think I’m going to write a play. I’ve done several one acts but I’ve never written a full length play and it’s something I want to do.

But in the meantime I want to see some theater. So for Christmas I bought my family tickets to see Monty Python’s Spamalot on Christmas Eve at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit I couldn’t be more excited. And then in April I’ll be hitting NYC for Edgar Week and some vacation time and I want ot see something while I’m there. I found the perfect thing online yesterday: Evil Dead: The Musical.

Now that leads us to Chick Lit. I’ve been following the blog of authors May Vanderbilt and Anne Dayton who wrote the novel “Emily Ever After” about a Christian girl working in publishing in NYC which is neat since they are Christians authors working in New York publishing themselves. Today they reference Kristin Chenoweth, the Broadway star of Wicked and a regular guest star on The West Wing.

She is also a Christian and talks about the rock and hard place many Christian artists in the secular field face. She was promoting a pop Christian album and did a interview on The 700 Club. That got her many gay fans outraged and she apologized and said she supported gay marriage and didn’t really support some of Pat Robertson’s extreme ideas. That elicited her the wrath of her Christian fans who wanted her to be more judgemental against her gay fans.

But the more interesting things to me about this is the Chenowith also dated Aaron Sorkin for 10 months. Sorkin is a hardcore liberal and known for his dislike and distrust of the religious right. Well Chenoweth was the basis for one of my favorite characters on Sorkin’s new show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Sarah Paulson plays a christin actress on Studio 60 who once dated Matthew Perry’s character who is based on Sorkin himself.

I know, it’s a bit much to grasp at once, but for a meta-art fan like myself it’s giddy fun. But in a recent article with the New York Times, Chenoweth says that Sorkin asked her first if he could create a charcter based on her. She said some of the dialogue was ripped almost verbatim from arguments they had. Like Sorkin, and many writers I suspect, I draw extensively from my own life for material and this brings up the question of what we owe people we base characters on.

If you are basing a character directly on someone from your life would you ask that person for permission? I never have and I don’t think I ever would. When I pull traits or experiences or something like that from another person it’s also mixed with a healthy dose of imagination and inveted traits. I’m not writing Roman A Clefs or using tha person in a cameo role or anything. I think my dealings with a person are fair game for material. Am I wrong here? Has anyone ever had experience with a real person getting mad for their portrayal in yoru fiction?