Casting Call: A Boy Named Shel

In which we suggest who should star in the next big adaptation, remake, or historical film.


“‘I cannot go to school today,’ said little Peggy Ann McCay. ‘I have the measles and the mumps, a gash, a rash, and purple bumps.'” This refrain, chanted by schoolchildren everywhere in protest of the daily trudge to the big yellow bus, opens one of Shel Silverstein’s most iconic poems, Where the Sidewalk Ends’s “Sick.” From his ridiculous imagery to inventive rhyming couplets, Silverstein’s children’s work remains his strongest legacy. But fewer recognize his work as a cartoonist, playwright, singer, and songwriter—the writer, who got his start as the illustrator for Playboy‘s strip comics in the magazine’s early days, also penned Johnny Cash’s hit “A Boy Named Sue” and collaborated on stage writing with David Mamet.

Earlier this week, Variety announced that Wonderland Sound and Vision, the production company helmed by McG (Charlie’s Angels, Terminator Salvation), has optioned the film adaptation Lisa Rogak’s biography of Silverstein, A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein. The biopic will shed light on Silverstein’s private life and the development of his career, from young womanizer to respected children’s author and illustrator. Chris Shafer and Paul Vicknair, co-authors of the upcoming indie comedy A Many Splintered Thing, are adapting the text for the screen.

It’s a rare artist who can bridge the divide between work for children and adults, but Shel’s irreverent, humorous lyricism remains a staple of classrooms and bedside readings everywhere, and lines from his books are sure to stay in the pop culture lexicon for years to come. So while the film is still in very early stages of development, we can’t help but dream up casting possibilities for Silverstein and all those who flew in his orbit.

Casting Call runs every Friday. For more, click here.