Look for Hardwick books now, movies later

April 5, 1998
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@ dcn.davis.ca.us

Gary Hardwick was born and raised in Detroit and his two published mysteries, "Cold Medina" and "Double Dead," are set in Detroit. He describes "Dead, " as "the first black legal thriller."

He was the 10th of 12 children. His father was an autoworker. When Hardwick was young, his favorite past-times were writing and watching TV. They are his favorite past-times today, too, but now he's getting to be pretty well paid: He is the executive producer of the TV sitcom "In the House."

Hardwick attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and at age 19 wrote a novel that was almost published. That boosted his confidence, but he didn't get around to writing another book until many years later for one main reason.

"Young people don't have a lot to say - life experiences come later," he said.

Hardwick began collecting experiences along with his law degree at Wayne State University. For one thing, he had to figure out how to escape the grinding poverty of law school.

"So I started doing stand-up comedy," he said, as if it were the most natural next step in the world. When he graduated, he began writing "Cold Medina" while he was practicing law. It took about two years to write and more than twice as long to sell.

"Everyday I'd look forward to coming home and writing another chapter," he said.

So there he was, practicing law, making good money as a comic - up to $2,000 a week - when he ran into a friend who told him could make even more money writing for TV in L.A.

"I decided to move to California and become a writer," he said, again, as if it were just the natural next step. It took a little convincing, but Hardwick eventually persuaded his wife to leave Detroit and move to LA. She got a job at a bank while he got a job at the Department of Justice. A little more than a year later, Hardwick sold a script to Disney.

"I thought: 'It's about time, I've been here for a year!' "

By this time he was still unsuccessfully trying to sell his first novel. But now, because he was a TV writer, he got an agent and that agent sold his book. And then he sold his second book.

"Every (success) came from my first book because in Hollywood you're considered 'a real writer' if you've written a book...it even negates the fact that I'm a lawyer."

Actually, Hardwick says being a lawyer is not a bad thing to be in Hollywood. "It has helped me to be very disciplined," he said. "And people are scared of lawyers and that doesn't hurt."

Hardwick says his novels are selling very well in Detroit. "I paint Detroit in realistic terms," he says.

"It's really two cities: wealthy and poor and both cities, both the haves and have-nots, are black."

Hardwick says he has two or three projects in the works now including a third book, screenplays and movies.

"I see the future of books in Hollywood as being a lot more significant that it is now - books are needed as source material for movies," he said.

He also sees blacks as an increasingly influential component of TV and movie audiences.

"There is a big black audience out there," he said.

He said the fact that "In the House," a black show, can compete against another black show, "Cosby," in the same time slot without being canceled proves that the black audience exists.

Hardwick says his mission as executive producer of "In the House" has been to change its format form reliance on one main story to three or four little stories. In other words, he's been told to turn it into "a modern sitcom" like the hit "Seinfeld."

In fact, Hardwick said he wrote a black Seinfeld-type program called "Washington Jefferson," which has been picked up by Disney and may go into production this fall.

He thinks movie-makers are missing a good bet by not appealing to black audiences. But he insists it's not a question of racism. Instead, it's a question of dollars and cents.

"Hollywood hasn't learned yet that if you make a good movie with a black female lead you can get the audience. Hollywood is concerned about making money and doesn't think that black movies will make it, but the audience is there."

Watch for a Gary Hardwick movie to hit the big screen in the years ahead.

To inquire about ordering any of the above mentioned books from an independent bookstore,
Bogey's Books [ Click Here ]

To Order "Cold Medina" (Paperback) from Amazon [ Click Here ] links.
To Order "Double Dead" (Hardcover) from Amazon [ Click Here ] links.

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