Stallone adapts former Pioneer Press illustrator's novel into film

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Photos: Open Road Films (left) and Jean Pieri/ChuckLogan.org (right).

A former staff artist with the Pioneer Press said he's more than thrilled that one of his action novels has been adapted for the big screen by actor-filmmaker Sylvester Stallone.

"Homefront," written by Minnesota-based author Chuck Logan, opens in theaters nationwide Wednesday. The film stars Jason Statham as Phil Broker, a single father and former DEA agent who finds himself in the crosshairs of some violent meth dealers after his 10-year-old daughter defends herself against a bully at school. Unfortunately, the bully is the son of one of the villains.

The film also stars Minnesota native Winona Ryder, as well as James Franco and Kate Bosworth. Stallone, who wrote the screenplay, optioned to make the 2005 book into the movie twice before, so when Logan learned the "Rambo" and "Rocky" star-writer secured filming rights for a third time, his hopes weren't high.

"I thought, 'Here we go again,' but in a very crucial time in my life, he decided to make it a motion picture," Logan told me in a recent interview. "It changed everything and I'm as happy as a clam."

As several novelists already know, the details of their stories can undergo big changes before the film hits theaters, and the fate of Logan's book wasn't any different. Most notably, the film's fictional town of Glacier Falls, Minnesota, was switched out for a small town in Louisiana.

Rationalizing the change, Logan said, "It's kind of like selling your car. When you sell it and take the money from the person buying your property, it's their car and they can do what they want with it. Film is a different medium. It's like your story gets on the transporter and beamed to the parallel universe of Hollywood, but not all the people, places and plot points make it. A lot changes."

No matter the changes, Logan said he remains impressed with Stallone and his capabilities as a writer, which dates back to the screenplay for the 1976 Best Picture Oscar winner "Rocky."

"Whatever you can say about cheesy action movies, 'Rocky' remains the gold standard in Hollywood. The way he wrote that movie on his own, on his own dime, is still an amazing story," Logan said. "I talked to him on the phone, and he's a very suave business guy. I think he knew what he was doing with this adaptation."

Logan, who moved to south Minneapolis in 1969 after returning to the U.S. from a 13-month tour of Vietnam, said he worked at the Pioneer Press as a staff artist from 1975 to 1995. He went half-time in 1985 to begin concentrating on his writing career.

Currently, Logan and his wife, Pioneer Press photographer Jean Pieri, live in Stillwater.

"Homefront" isn't his first flirtation with Hollywood. His first novel, "Hunter's Moon," was optioned and looked at by Nick Nolte as the possible source material for the drama "Affliction," the 1997 film that won the late James Coburn his first and only Oscar.

The writer described "Hunter's Moon," published in 1996, as his "wobbly, training wheels novel," and he's since then he's been given a bit more control over creative decisions.

"I certainly didn't name that book because there's about 70 novels titled 'Hunter's Moon,' and about half of them have Fabio on the cover," Logan said with a laugh.

In addition to the "Homefront" movie, Logan's latest novel, "Fallen Angel," is being released as an e-book Wednesday.

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