The Social Network, the new movie about the people who made Facebook, is getting a lot of publicity. The television ads hype the director, David Fincher (Se7en, Zodiac, Fight Club), and the writer, Aaron Sorkin (The American President, The West Wing, A Few Good Men), but, as television commercials generally do, they ignore the guy who wrote the book.
The Social Network is based on The Accidental Billionaires (2009), an exciting and rather eye-opening book by Ben Mezrich. It’s not the first time one of his books has been adapted to the screen, either: 21, the 2008 movie about a group of young geniuses who made a fortune at the Las Vegas casinos, was based on Mezrich’s compelling book, Bringing Down the House (2002). I like the movie: it nicely captures the flavor of the book, and Kevin Spacey is — no surprise here — wonderful as Micky Rosa, the M.I.T. professor who masterminds the operation.
Speaking of operations: Reaper, Mezrich’s 1998 medical thriller about a surgeon and a virologist who race against time to stop the spread of a cutting-edge virus, was made into the 1999 TV movie Fatal Error. The moviemakers made some changes to Mezrich’s story, and overall the movie is a little thin (they stripped the novel of much of its subtlety and wit), but it’s worth checking out.