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“Geography Club,” the movie: Former Tacoma novelist Brent Hartinger gets his gay-teen novel filmed, with fall release planned.

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on Jan. 30, 2013 at 5:30 am |
January 29, 2013 12:34 pm

brenthartingerbeachBrent Hartinger, a former Tacoma writer who hit big with his gay-empowerment young adult novel “Geography Club” in 2003 is now seeing his award-winning book turned into a movie, with a fall release date planned. Directed by Gary Entin, the film stars Cameron Deane Stewart as the protagonist Russel Middlebrook, with “90210” actor Justin Deeley, Nikki Blonsky (“Hairspray”) and Ally Maki (“Ten Things I Hate About You”) supporting.

“I’m thrilled,” said Hartinger, who moved to Seattle a couple of years ago but who based “Geography Club” on his former hometown Tacoma, where it was initially banned by the University Place school district. “I spent almost a week on the set in Los Angeles last summer, and it was a surreal experience.”

Hartinger, who married his long-term partner Michael Jensen in December, is the author of numerous young adult books, including two more in the Russel Middlebrook series, and a number of plays including a stage adaptation of “Geography Club.” He co-founded the gay teen help center Oasis in 1990.

“Geography Club,” which tells a coming-of-age story of teens who form a gay-straight alliance under the alias of a geography club. It won many awards, including the Lambda Award, a Children’s Book Award “Notable Book” and Booklist’s “Top Ten Best First YA Novel.”

The movie version, to be released in fall with a possible Tacoma premiere at The Grand Cinema, was filmed in Los Angeles but, says Hartinger, with a Tacoma feel: no palm trees.

“The screenplay is probably more faithful than a lot of movies, but they changed quite a bit as well,” Hartinger says. “But everything I saw was top-notch all the way…Once I accepted that the movie is different from the book and the play, it has just been pure fun, and extremely gratifying.”

Hartinger is about to release the fourth book in the Middlebrook series “The Elephant of Surprise” on March 30. Published by Buddha Kitty books, the story is again set roughly in Tacoma, with Russel hankering after both a mysterious guy called Wade and old flame Kevin from “Geography Club.”

More information: brenthartinger.com

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