At a book party Monday night to celebrate the publication of “Sisi: Empress On Her Own,” (The Dial Press), former New York Gov. George Pataki said, “Let’s raise a glass to historical fiction and an author who herself is ahead of her time, a true heroine, a woman who can take a blank page and write a rich world.” Spoken like a true father.
Pataki père went on to tell guests at The Waverly Inn how, when his daughter Allison was in high school, he’d have to go to her room in the wee hours of the night and tell her to stop studying and go to bed. “She was always someone driven to do her best,” he said.
Harvey Weinstein, who’s taken on the role of the sage in Allison Pataki’s posse, dispensed advice: “Her books are great, big works of historical fiction” that would be powerful in the world of Netflix, he said. Is he interested in buying the film rights to the newest novel? “She sells [the rights] to other companies,” Weinstein said. “I’m family here.”
Pataki’s first book about Sisi, “The Accidental Empress,” told the story of the young wife of Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph and has been optioned along with “Sisi: Empress on Her Own.” The latter chronicles Sisi’s love affairs and suffocating marriage as she fights to assert her right to the throne beside her husband.
Anonymous Content and H2O Pictures are “partnering to tell the whole story,” Pataki said. “I would love to make a lush TV series. So much great content is being developed for TV today. It’s a great way to tease out a complex story.
“My whole time writing ‘Sisi,’ I always loved Alicia Vikander,” Pataki said. “I saw her in ‘Anna Karenina’ five years ago. She would be my dream choice.”
Pataki allowed that Vikander might be difficult to get due to her recent supporting actress Oscar win for her role in “The Danish Girl.” “It has to be someone young and beautiful, with a commanding presence, who is also naïve,” she said.
Pataki has three more novels in various states of completion. “One book is finished,” she said. All she would say is that she’s writing a historical fiction book set during the French Revolution. “I love finding new ways into time periods people are familiar with. The story centers on a woman and two men and is based on a factual character,” she said.
Conversation at the party turned to the surreal state of Republican politics. “He’s the man who should be president,” Weinstein said, referring to the senior Pataki. “He’s a great leader, a fiscal conservative who’s good about human rights. I’m a longtime Democrat, but I broke ranks for the governor. I took him to Hollywood and introduced him to Warren Beatty, Sydney Pollack and Jeffrey Katzenberg.”
Pataki did throw his hat into the ring seeking the Republication nomination, but suspended his campaign in December.
Weinstein’s wife, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, came and left in a flurry of ocelot spots and air kisses. “I’m going out to dinner with four mothers from my daughter’s class,” she said, adding, “She’s five years old.” Now that the fall collection is finished, Chapman said she’s looking forward to the label’s bridal collection, which she designs with partner Keren Craig.
Her husband, meanwhile is looking forward — albeit with some trepidation — to the August release of “The Founder,” starring Michael Keaton as McDonald’s mogul Ray Kroc. “It’s a behind-the-scenes story,” said Weinstein, who is cochairman of the Weinstein Company, with his brother Bob. “It’s the most controversial movie my brother and I have ever done. This tells a different story, how [Kroc] roughed up the people who invented McDonalds. We’ll never be served there again. They’ll have pictures of us, like, in the post office. “