The Unstoppable Success of Frank McCourt
1997 interview with Frank McCourt from the Irish Voice
Twenty-four hours later, McCourt hasn't stopped moving. By Tuesday afternoon he had taped segments for Ms. Couric's `Today' show, several radio programs and a TV interview for the MSNBC network. After a hero's welcome Tuesday afternoon at the Scribners office in Manhattan, McCourt hoped the phone would stop ringing long enough to afford him a couple hours sleep before the 5p.m. taping of NBC-TV's Conan O'Brien show.
And though the author may rest, the book moves on. Last week, Angela's Ashes was once again the Number One non-fiction book on the New York Times' national best-sellers list. Which meant yet another set of busted predictions: McCourt often jokes how the doorman at his Manhattan apartment building predicted the book would go no higher than Number Four, and McCourt himself told the Irish Voice in December, after Angela's Ashes first reached Number One, that it would "drop like a stone" after the Christmas gift-giving season.
"Me, I'm allowed to be wrong," said the author. "But my doorman, I still take great pleasure in telling him he was wrong and that furthermore, his pessimism will be reflected in the Christmas gift."
After Conan O'Brien, McCourt says the Pulitzer has won him bookings next week on Tom Snyder's CBS talk show and the Bill Maher-hosted `Politically Incorrect.'
"They tell me I'm on `Politically Incorrect' with Ollie North," said McCourt. "That should be a lot of fun."
A lifelong teacher as well as a New York actor and personality (he has performed stage shows with his previously better-known brother, the soap opera heart-throb, Malachy), McCourt says the unexpected success of Angela's Ashes continues to surprise him.
"It's like a series of waves hitting you," said McCourt. "First, getting excerpted in the New Yorker last summer, then getting published, then the best-seller list, the award, the movie deal, now this, a Pulitzer. Honestly, this time last year I thought that if the book sold a few thousand copies and had been reviewed by the New York Times, that would've been enough."
As for the movie deal, McCourt says a deal has been all-but finalized, with an option bought by producers Scott Rudin and David Browne and a screenplay in development by Hollywood veteran Laura Jones, who wrote the screenplay adaptation of Portrait of a Lady.
"Laura is writing the screenplay and I think she's re-naming it `Portrait of a Scabby-Eyed Kid from Limerick,'" deadpanned McCourt.
Any plans for the Pulitzer committee's prize -- a silver medallion?
"The medallion?," said McCourt, "I'm going to put in there in the other room with my relic of The True Cross."
What about the Pulitzer Committee's prize money of $5,000?
"Are you kidding?," said McCourt. "That's what I spend on lunch."
And finally, apart from the escalating price of grilled-cheese sandwiches, are there any other drawbacks connected to the continued success of Frank McCourt?
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