Albert Brooks has proven pretty good at predicting the future, so why not take a stab at an Orwellian work of fiction-that-could-come-true for his first novel?
After all, the actor/filmmaker’s 1979 mockumentary “Real Life” was, in hindsight, a slightly chilling prognostication of the advent of reality television; his role in 1987’s “Broadcast News” foreshadowed the marginalizing of professional journalists in favor of glamorous, camera-ready talking heads; and he was one of the first big-name celebrities to guest-voice on “The Simpsons” back in 1990.
Now Brooks is looking ahead two decades for a new project, his debut novel: 2030; The Real Story of What Happens to America, a (mostly) non-satirical, 1984-style extrapolation of the future he thinks might unfold.
“It deals with twenty years from now,” Brooks tells PopcornBiz. “It was too expensive of an idea to make a movie – I wanted to tell a story but I wanted to not be limited to a lower budget. So I wrote a novel instead.”
The multicharacter story, due in May from St. Martin’s Press, explores Brooks’ vision on an America unburdened by deadly diseases like cancer but with an increasingly aging, entitled and debt-addicted population that sparks resentment – and revolutionary action – from the younger generation.
Although the book will have its comedic elements, “I don't know if satire is the right word,” says Brooks. “I try to do something that could possibly happen.”
The process of tackling his first novel, which took 14 months to complete, was a kick – towards the end.
“Boy, I'll tell you, when you're in the middle of it I don't know that fun is even the right word,” he explains, “but as you get further and further in, you start to realize 'Hey, this could be a book.' So the fun was seeing the end at some point.”
And while it’s a far cry from his generally low-budget film efforts, Brooks, 63, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of the story being adapted to the big screen. Just don’t expect him to be behind the camera. “I wouldn't want to direct this as a movie,” he insists. “It's not my style – but I would certainly come to the premiere.”
As an actor, Brooks just wrapped shooting “Drive,” co-starring with Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan, and he expects to return to writing and directing film projects again soon. And as for the burning question of whether his voice-acting pseudonym “A. Brooks” will assume an unprecedented sixth character on “The Simpsons” (PopcornBiz’s personal favorite being Homer’s former boss Hank Scorpio), he admits: “I don't know – Ask Jim Brooks!”