It’s been said that great books usually make bad movies, and bad books can make great movies. But that axiom doesn’t really apply to The Hunger Games — because it’s pretty damn good on the page and on the screen. The Hunger Games is also EW’s newsstand cover this week, though subscribers will be getting a very different cover: Fifty Shades of Grey, the shocking, erotic e-book phenomenon about a woman seduced into an S&M romance that just incited a heated Hollywood bidding war (Universal and Focus Features snapped up the movie rights for a reported $5 million). Both stories are in this issue, and both are fascinating takes on how an author speaks to her audience. In The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins appeals to the finer instincts — loyalty, courage, and compassion — of her young readers; meanwhile, Fifty Shades author E L James has tapped into the fantasies and frustrations of her own, largely female audience. In our exclusive interview, the author tells Lisa Schwarzbaum her books are simply ”for ordinary women who like some spicy sex.”
It’s exciting to see two covers that come from the world of books (yes, The Hunger Games is now a blockbuster movie, but still). Why aren’t there more book-themed covers on EW? The answer is obvious: If you’ve got an overall audience of nearly 18 million (including our magazine and website), movies and television are the fastest way to the greatest number of hearts. But there are other, equally crucial pieces of our DNA. I truly believe that EW’s books coverage is what separates us from the animals, and senior editor Tina Jordan runs that department with a passion for great literature and exciting new voices. She’s also got a sharp eye for spotting the Next Big Thing: Stephen King gave the first Hunger Games novel a big boost when he reviewed it for EW back in 2008 (”As negative utopias go, Suzanne Collins has created a dilly,” he wrote). As for the other mediums we cover: We’re expanding and evolving our coverage of music and theater, and since games and tech are sucking up more and more of your entertainment time and money, we want to make sure you find the best stuff out there. Like all issues, this one has plenty of movie and TV news, including our piece on James Van Der Beek, who stars on the very funny new series Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. Van Der Beek stars as himself — but a really douchey version of himself. Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Matt LeBlanc (Episodes) have done similar things, to equally magnificent effect. Apart from fascinating books becoming fascinating movies, this actors-as-awful-versions-of-themselves thing is quickly becoming my favorite Hollywood trend.