WASHINGTON — In a world where millions of marriages end in divorce, the question of what happens to the children is worth considering.
In real life, many of these kids grow up to be perfectly normal, well-adjusted adults with successful marriages of their own. But in Warren Adler’s world, sometimes the children come out poisoned and traumatized from watching their parents kill each other.
Such is the case in Adler’s books “War of the Roses” (1981) and its sequel, “The Children of the Roses” (2004). The original novel tells the story of a married couple — played on screen by Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner — who fall in love, tie the knot and then proceed to torture each other until death does them part.
Almost 25 years after the original 1989 movie, Adler’s son, Jonathan Adler, is adapting his father’s follow-up book for the big screen.
“It’s a continuation of a dysfunctional marriage from the first book,” Adler says.
“[The children] are now stuck dealing with not only their past, [with] what happened to their parents, but how to successfully have relationships going forward. They run into some serious problems.”
Despite his father’s comedic take on a difficult issue, Adler says the story looks at “how difficult it is to be a child of divorce and how difficult it is to be parented by children of divorce.”
“War of the Roses: The Children” is Adler’s first foray into film production. The Bethesda, Maryland native recently left his post as CEO and owner of the local fitness chain Sport & Health Clubs to start Grey Eagle Films.
Just 18 months into the new venture, Adler has already lined up an impressive roster of Hollywood talent to work on a smorgasbord of projects, all stemming from his father’s writing.
Upcoming titles include “Capitol Crimes,” a D.C. thriller Adler likens to “House of Cards” and “Scandal.” The show will be based on the Fiona Fitzgerald mystery novels by Warren Adler. Award-winning screenwriter Eric Overmyer (“The Wire,” “Treme,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “Law & Order”) will script that project.
Meanwhile, “Eastbound and Down” writer Alex McAulay has signed on to ink the “War of the Roses” sequel. A feature film based on Warren Adler and James Humes’ World War II thriller “Target Churchill” is also in the works.
Adler says he and his father talk daily about their respective projects. At 86, Warren Adler is still churning out new stories. His experience with Hollywood is now trickling down to his son.
“My father sold 12 books to the movies, and two of them were made,” Jonathan Adler says. “But that was in the ’70 and ’80s. It’s a whole new ballgame.”
In order to learn the ropes, Adler says he works the film festival circuit and watches hours of TV. But while most people snack their way through “Orange Is the New Black,” one of his favorite shows, Adler is voraciously taking notes.
“I’m a junkie. My wife and I binge for sometimes four or five hours. I have every gadget, every apparatus, so I can see everything that is out there.”
Despite the changing tide, Adler says “War of the Roses” has a certain timelessness that will hopefully appeal to modern audiences.
“It’s an important story about how people are resilient,” he says. “It’s a bumpy road, but you can get through it.”
Watch a teaser for the original “War of the Roses” below: