Shown on as a play in 1962 (Mitchell landing the part), become one the most popular television crime shows of all time since 1968 to 2003, will Columbo saga be completed throughout a movie ? This blog is dedicated to this goal pleading for a story bought by Universal in 1997 to be the base of the future script.
This story was Fatal Break (click to get pdf) Peter Falk read in 1996. One year later, a contract was signed off with the studio and the revision undertaken under supervision of Falk himself. Despite it gave satisfaction, "it' s a great script" said Nancy Meyer, one of the Universal script supervisors, Fatal Break alas never went to production, possibly because of its potential cost: many of of his scenes take place in eastern italian alps, the impressive Dolomites where Cliffanger first act was shot. But what was a negative factor according television standards can become a very plus in the context of film industry.
To do Columbo the movie, why not an American-French team ?
Steven Spielberg directed the 1st episode of Columbo once become a series in 1971. It was Murder by the Book, one of the best Columbo episodes. Before his first feature Dual, Spielberg's Columbo is therefore his first film. Known as a francophile, having shot several of his movies in France, my guess is: Spielberg directing Columbo the movie with a French writing the script.
Let you discover here Fatal Break, both as a Columbo and as the uncredible story of a script born in Paris that had not the slightest chance to be read by Peter Falk then be bought by Universal.
Certainly it was a crazy idea.
How could a new screenwriter whose first spec had not yet induced any contact in the Film industry, how could a French without any network in the States, how could such a guy hope the Columbo episode he decided to write had the slightest chance to be read by Peter Falk ?
Meeting Peter Falk in 1996
Main Steps from issue to beginning
- June 1998: the revised treatment of Fatal Break was completed and sent to Universal
- October 1997: in relationship with Peter Falk and Universal Television script supervisors, beginning of revision.
- March 1997: agreement with Universal City Studio was signed off in.
- February 1996: Peter Falk read the story in Paris where he met me.
- September 1994: Fatal Break material first draft returned since Universal Studios policy “forbids absolutely acceptance of any unsolicited script or outline”.
- July 1994: Fatal Break material (treatment plus 1st part of dialogue) is completed and sent to Universal. December 1993:Paris Columbo Script Team was created, gathering around me three American females.
- November 1993: Rupture Fatale was completed.
- August 1993: First step of writing Rupture Fatale, story on which Fatal Break is based.
Columbo in me imagines a perfect murder while climbing a moutain
Somewhere in the French Alps, near the famous Meige. At this time, I was used to impersonate Columbo just for kidding, especially in incongruous situations.
Le Combat des Rois (Battle of the Kings) and was waiting responses from the producers and actors I sent my material. After have worked a dozen years as an executive in consulting, industry then banking, I wanted to do something fully different, to involve myself in a creative process much more in accordance with my personality.
To have been able to complete a story was for me a first success and I was willing to write another one as soon as possible.
Climbing a mountain provided me a flash of intuition: an exciting perfect murder could be set up there, a fake accident. And I was thinking about characters, mobile, way, police inquiry and this little thing that makes a perfect murder fail. To help me find my story, I was impersonating my favorite detective played by my TV show favorite actor Peter Falk.
A friend listening my strange Columbo improvised tirades, gave me the kick off: not only you play very well Columbo but it seems you think like the character; why not making a Columbo episode with your mountain perfect murder ingredients ?
Why not ? Simply because I couldn’t imagine I was able to. But if... my story was something very innovating ? Columbo investigating in mountain in a context far from usual Hollywood set. Why not in Italy, Eastern Italian Alps, a return to his family roots ?
Knowing very well the climbing universe, Columbo living in me so many times, at ease to imagine sophisticated murder plots… yes after all. Even if it is just for the fun.
Come back in Paris end of August, I remember me on Le Pont des Arts, working day after day to polish my murder, then build the characters, the motive, the clues and the fight between Columbo and the murderer.