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Casting Call: How Starbucks Saved My Life

Gill tells us how he met Susan, his former mistress, in a flashback. Walking into a workout class he's not quite sure why he's attending, he finds the room empty except for a quietly sobbing woman. Contrary to his initial impression, which also led Michael to believe the two a perfect match, Susan is an accomplished psychiatrist with a stable life of her own, and she quickly dumps Michael after their son Jonathan is born out of wedlock, finding him "boring." Catherine Keener has a knack for playing less than likable supporting roles while retaining an innate sense of humor—we're especially looking at 2008's Synecdoche, New York. We imagine that she would infuse Susan's character with an unforgettable dynamism that she lacks in the memoir.


Three-quarters of the way through the story, Crystal invites all the "Partners" to sit down with Abe, their new district manager. Gill and Abe bond over their similarities—Abe once worked at a macho, big-name company (Pepsi) and genuinely loves coffee as he grew up in Costa Rica on a coffee farm. But Abe also introduces new conflict in the story—after hearing that Michael makes a three-hour commute to his Starbucks store every  day, he suggests that Michael transfer to the Starbucks in Bronxville, where Michael now lives in a small cramped apartment instead of a mansion, to better interact with and serve his community. But, Abe says, he'll support whatever decision Michael makes—Starbucks does not order its employees around (unlike a certain ad agency). Though sad at the prospect of leaving his Partners, Michael ultimately decides to make the move, also proving the Starbucks system of management superior. We think Steve Buscemi's deceptively diffident voice would be perfect for the meet-and-greet, while his gangster credits would lend Abe a more... persuasive air.


Alec Baldwin bears an uncanny resemblance to Michael Gates Gill both physically and in the socioeconomic status of his most famous roles. Plus, we find his famous "Coffee's for losers" monologue in Glengarry Glen Ross amusingly ironic here. We think Baldwin would adeptly handle the absurdity of tempering a VP ego with a growing enthusiasm for scrubbing grout and making soyaccinos, all with an expression of endearingly unblinking naivete.



Gill is a great admirer of the Starbucks practice of calling employees "Partners" and customers "Guests" to better create a homey atmosphere along with the delicious Sumatra blends and mouth-watering espresso brownies. One of the standout members of this cast of Partners is Charlie, whom Michael refers to as "The Music Man." Though Charlie responds blankly to Michael's Frank Sinatra references, Charlie is never without his iPod and headphones, always dancing in silence whenever he's on a break. We think actor and hip-hop artist Donald Glover, who performs under the name Childish Gambino, would be perfect for the role. His baby-faced charm doesn't hurt either, as Gill declares more than once that he can't keep track of all the girls who have asked for Charlie's number.



Gill's daughter Annie makes several appearances throughout the book, though oddly never with Michael's other three children from his first marriage (though his guilt in tearing apart his family with an affair fuels the memoir, Michael is understandably vague about the specifics). Annie is an actress living in Brooklyn who was once mentioned to have starred in an off-off-Broadway play, and is equal parts amused, proud, and angry at her father for, well, a lot of things. Michael's oldest child, Elizabeth, or "Bis," is in her early 30s, so we think it's safe to assume Annie is wandering around the no-man's-land of her 20s, and who would be a better fit for such a role than Lena Dunham?



Coming off of the emotionally grueling 12 Years a Slave, we think a leading role playing Crystal, the 28-year-old Starbucks manager who discovers Brooks Brothers-suited Michael slumped over a Tumi briefcase at a recruiting event, would be a relief for Lupita Nyong'o without sacrificing depth of character. The daughter of a drug addict, Crystal's personal life is a giant mystery surrounded by a diligent chauffeur and a pervading aura of luxury, but her passion for Starbucks and all of the people who come into the store out of the cold are straightforward. Crystal's leadership and commitment also win her a Manager of the Quarter award, which would be good practice for Nyong'o for the Academy Awards in March.