Sherman leaving Hollywood
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JUNE 23, 2000

Sherman Alexie, the Original Indian Nerd tm whose short stories made it onto the big screen in Smoke Signals, announced his withdrawal from the movie business on Thursday.

"I'm quitting the movie business," Alexie told the Massachusetts crowd who gathered to catch a glimpse of the award winning author who brought Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-the-Fire to life in the 1998 movie. "I made the decision today."

But fans of the dynamic duo need not fear. Due to contractual obligations, Alexie said, he's got one more trick up his sleeve: a screenplay for his 1995 novel, Reservation Blues, which will reunite the two.

In what can only be described as Christopher Columbus meets Reservoir Dogs meets Addams Family Values, Alexie offered up the opening scene for the movie as an example of the difficulties he has encountered since becoming Miramax's independent, Indian darling.

After a vignette in which Victor and Thomas kick the Fry Bread Power up another notch and lay waste execution-style to a certain European explorer, Thomas remarks, "Heyyyyyy Victor, what do you think would have happened if Indians had tougher immigration laws?"

The studio had some reservation blues of their own about the scene, according to Alexie.

But Alexie's forays into the television and movie world play a back seat to the main reason for which his fans admire him most: his ability to express his ideas, thoughts, and visions through the spoken and written word.

Poetry is the focus of One Stick Song, released just this month. Some of the poems from the collection helped him secure an unprecedented three time victory in The World Heavyweight Championship Poetry Bout held in Taos, New Mexico last week.

"I didn't think I was going to win this time," Alexie said in an interview on Wednesday. "I thought I would run out of energy."

Judging by the amount of work he's put out recently, Alexie may not be running out of energy anytime soon. In May, he released The Toughest Indian in the World, a series of short stories about ordinary, urban Indians in occasionally extraordinary circumstances.

"I'm going to focus completely on urban Indians for a while," Alexie said Wednesday. "Until everyone starts writing about them, then I'll go back to writing about the rez."

So for now, readers can expect the Seattle, Washington resident to continue to write, write, and write some more. Alexie's successes in the literary world place him in the fortunate position of being able to have something to fall back on should the rest of his screenplay for Reservation Blues hit the proverbial cutting room floor.
Relevant Links:
Sherman Alexie Online:
From Bob Holman, Alexie's challenger in the Poetry Bout: How To Train for the World Heavyweight Poetry Bout Championship... & Lose!

Related Stories:
Sherman in the Spotlight (Arts and Entertainment 5/30)

The Toughest Indian in the World The Toughest Indian in the World
Atlantic Monthly Press
Released in May 2000, the book features a series of interesting stories about characters whom Sherman calls "ordinary, mainstream Indians."
One Stick Song One Stick Song
Hanging Loose Press
Released in June 2000, some of the poems in the collection helped Alexie win The World Heavyweight Championship Poetry Bout on June 17.
One Stick Song Smoke Signals
Available in VHS, DVD
$17.99, $22.49
Released in 1998, its Alexie's first film, produced by Chris Eyre. Victor and Thomas team up and travel to the Southwest.
One Stick Song Addams Family Values
Available in VHS, DVD
$13.99, $22.49
No, Alexie did not have any part in this move, released in 1993. But it features one of the funniest "Indians turn the tables" scenes in recent memory.