Addicted, a story of sex addiction adapted from the book by Zane aka Kristina Laferne Roberts, published in 1998, was made into a film by Lionsgate and CodeBlack from a script by screenwriter Christina Welsh, who agreed to give the Guardian Liberty Voice an exclusive interview. Ms. Welsh had a chat with Michael Smith, the Deputy Managing Editor and Senior Entertainment Editor of GLV and the two spoke of writing, “pitching” an idea, working with some big names and what she will be working on in the near future.
The film was released nationwide on October 10, 2014 and despite critics mostly panning the film audiences pretty much ignored the “experts” and their attendance allowed the $5 million film to gross $17.3 million in box office sales. The story is about successful business woman Zoe Reynard, who is married with two children, and her addiction to sex with other people apart from her husband leads Zoe to believe that she may lose everything that is dear to her. Reynard’s latest lover becomes obsessed and she realises that her own addictions threaten all she loves.
Addicted has a stellar cast, Sharon Leal (Dreamgirls, Freedom) as Zoe, William Levy (The Single Moms Club, The Tempest) as Quinton, Boris Kodjoe (Surrogates, Resident Evil: Retribution) as Jason, Zoe’s husband and Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries, Boogie Town) as Diamond, Quinton’s second lover. The book itself was published over 16 years ago and after several writers “auditioned” for a chance to adapt the book to film, Christina won and then wrote the screenplay. Part of that 16 years was spent overcoming various obstacles which kept the film version of the book from being made.
In her exclusive interview with the Guardian Liberty Voice, Addicted screenwriter Christina Welsh revealed that she “broke into the business in 1998.” Which was coincidentally the same year that Zane published her book on sexual addiction. Christina has been working in the business since that time and she says, “I’m lucky to say I’ve been a working screenwriter ever since.” Ms. Welsh told of how she went to a networking seminar to pitch an idea or two to “a couple of writers/producers” who liked her first project and they took her and her idea to Disney, who loved it.
The studio loved the idea so much that they hired the new writer to do the screenplay, giving Christina her chance to enter into the writer’s guild and here is the title of the project and her pitch to the studio:
She goes on to describe it as a dark comedy, saying that in essence one young teen girl at Beverly High who wants to fit in. Ms. Welch explained that despite the initial enthusiasm, the movie, like many in Hollywood was never made, unlike Addicted. She also mentioned that in Tinseltown ideas, or pitches, never really die and that they often turn back up when they are least expected. Which means the original idea for Split Decision, could crop back up.
Ms Welsh also explained a bit about different types of pitches, one of which is the elevator pitch. Christina wrote the screenplay for If Only the 2004 romantic comedy/drama made by Intermediary and Outlaw Production. Starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, who also produced, the film almost never got onto the the silver screen. The company who were to originally went bankrupt and Hewitt, along with the two production companies went into bankruptcy court and bought the property. Then, Christina says, “a year later it was in production in London.”
Talking about the amount of time that it took for If Only to move from script to screen. The subject of time and the process of competing with other writers was discussed. Addicted took a staggering eight years to make it to the big screen. Christina “auditioned” which was the agreed term in the interview, for the right to adapt Addicted, with a 30 minute “passionate treatment” of her idea of there to take the book in its adaptation. This happened in 2006 and over the next set of years various things cropped up to slow things down. Eventually, Ms. Welsh says, “after years something good seemingly happens overnight.”
Christina spoke of her first contact with Zane, the author of Addicted, “she was a voice on the other end of a speaker phone,” She also spoke of her excitement at getting the job and the feeling that Zane trusted her enough to give Christina her blessing to “take care of her baby. It actually took the writer eight and a half years to meet Zane and that was at the film’s premiere. Welsh spoke of what she learned from her extensive research into sex addiction and the curious double standards that the public have regarding this affliction. Talking about the way society looks at young boys being abused by “good-looking” female teachers and the lack of understanding about how being sexually addicted works and the price paid by all who are touched by it.
She explained that the big draw for her was that the main character recognised she needed help and actively sought it out, over quite a long time period. This was despite the fact that out of all possible types of addictions, sex addiction is one which the person suffering from the condition, feels a lot of shame. This act of taking responsibility for her actions and trying to keep from losing everything she held dear made the tale of Addicted resonate that bit more for Christina.
Addicted has performed very well at the box office earning more than three times its production cost which equates to success in Hollywood, regardless of what many critics have said about the film. As part of the exclusive interview with Christina Welsh, the screenwriter revealed how well the film performed despite not a lot of money being set aside for marketing. She related that Lionsgate, which she describes as being very savvy, focussed upon social media and networking. The production company utilized, to a great degree, the existing fanbase of Zane, the author of the source material. Christina related that she has just finished an erotic story, with Hitchcockian overtones, titled Rue, that is being looked at by the studios and she is currently working on a television pitch with a director. Ms. Welsh is also looking for a book to adapt into another film. Addicted is still in theatres at some locations
By Michael Smith
Christina Welsh Interview November 6, 2014