In Conversation: Judy Blume & Kelly Fremon Craig (Transcript)
The legendary author on why it took 50 years to make 'Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret' into a movie
Sean McNulty (00:03):
Welcome to The Ankler Podcast. I'm Sean McNulty from The Wakeup newsletter here at The Ankler, and this holiday week we have a special episode featuring legendary author Judy Blume and director Kelly Fremon Craig of the movie version of, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. The pair were interviewed in front of a live audience by Ankler's CEO, Janice Min on October 14th in Santa Monica at Zibby's Bookshop as the first in The Ankler's in Conversation: Page to Screen event series. A special thank you to the event sponsor, Lionsgate, and please enjoy. And our regular podcast will return next week.
Janice Min (00:41):
Good morning, everybody. I am so excited for you all to be here. I'm Janice Min. I am the CEO and editor in chief of The Ankler. First of all, thank you to Lionsgate for making this possible today. Thank you to Zibby's Bookshop, an independent bookstore, for making this possible today too. Oh my God, Judy Blume is here in Santa Monica with us. I am dying inside a lot right now, so I will keep my cool and be a professional.
First, I'm going to introduce Kelly Fremon Craig. She is a screenwriter, producer and film director. She wrote and directed the 2016 coming-of-age dramedy The Edge of 17, starring Hailee Steinfeld, to critical acclaim. And now she's captured another story of American girls in her 2023, this year, adaptation of Judy Blume's classic, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. The film, released earlier this year, received, this is important, a 99 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which yes, it's huge. Huge. I'm just going to say, not that we're making comparisons, it's way bigger than Barbie and Oppenheimer, meaning that critics really, really, really loved it, and critics are often not nice, as you may have heard. Okay, so I'm going to be ridiculous and introduce Judy Blume now.
Just in case some of you aren't familiar, Judy Blume is an icon. Yes, she has sold 82 million books, written 25 novels, including Deenie, Blubber, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Forever and Wifey. I think probably everyone in here has read every single one of those. She was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time this year and is recognized as a Library of Congress Living Legend. Congratulations. Some other things I love about Judy Blume, she has been called the “most censored writer in America.”
Judy Blume (02:43):
That's better than being [inaudible 00:02:45].
Janice Min (02:46):
And she actively works against book bans, a subject I hope we can spend a little bit of time on today. She's a producer of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, a wonderful gem of a movie. Welcome, Kelly. Welcome, Judy. Thank you so much for taking part of this today. It's the first in our Ankler In Conversation: Page to Screen series. I'm going to get to you, Judy, but I'm going to start with Kelly.
Judy Blume (03:15):
Janice Min (03:16):
I'm going to just share a list of some of the other movies released in 2023: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3, Fast X, which is the 10th installment of Fast and Furious, Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning, the seventh installment of Mission: Impossible. Then even Meg 2: The Trench, about the killer giant shark. I think there was a sequel. In this climate of franchises and sequels, you decide we're going to try to make a movie of a book published in 1970, which in the stakes of Hollywood today, is a small story. What in the world were you thinking?
Kelly Fremon Craig (03:54):
That's a really good question. Well, first of all, I have to say there are just a few books that got inside me in a way that just changed me, and Judy and this book was one of them. And I know so many people who feel that way about this book and who have experienced it through all different decades, I read it in 1990, and who related so deeply. I think there's something so universal about it. That, to me, is what made it big. That's what makes this little story feel much larger than it might seem on its surface.
Janice Min (04:35):
There's this whole theme of people writing Judy letters in her life that I want to talk about later, but you decided you were going to write an email to Judy Blume. What did you do?