HOMEBioFilm rights, Screenplays, Representation2021 Commentaries2020 CommentariesOLYMPIC AFFAIR: HITLER'S SIREN AND AMERICA'S HEROTHE WITCH'S SEASONThird Down and a War to GoHORNS, HOGS, AND NIXON COMING'77: DENVER, THE BRONCOS, AND A COMING OF AGEMarch 1939: Before the MadnessPLAYING PIANO IN A BROTHELSave By RoyThey Call Me "Mr. De": The Story of Columbine's Heart, Resilience and RecoveryA Selection of Terry Frei's writing about World War II heroesOlympic Affair Excerpt: Chapter 1, Leni's VisitOlympic Affair Excerpt: Chapter 15, Aren't You Thomas Wolfe?The Witch's Season: Screenplay opening pagesThe Witch's Season Excerpt:Air Force Game, Bitter Protest, a Single ShotThird Down and a War to Go: Screenplay opening pagesThird Down and a War to Go Excerpt: Ohio State vs. WisconsinThird Down and a War to Go genesis: Grateful for the Guard, Jerry FreiThird Down and a War to Go: A Marines' game on GuadalcanalDave Schreiner, Badger and MarineBob Baumann, Badger and MarineLt. Col. John Mosley, Aggie and Tuskegee AirmanHorns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming: Prologue and screenplay opening pagesHorns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming Excerpt: James Street: Wishbone WizardHorns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming Subplot: The day they stopped playing Dixie'77 Excerpt: AFC Title GameMarch 1939 Excerpt: First NCAA Title GameMarch 1939, Excerpt: The StartersPlaying Piano Excerpt: S.F. EarthquakeA Year with Nick Saban before he was Nick SabanTommy Lasorda and the Summer of '70Press CredentialsThe Sporting NewsDenver PostESPN.comThe OregonianGreeley TribuneKids' sports books: The ClassicsJon Hassler, Terry Kay and other favorite novelistsBig Bill Ficke's Big HeartBob Bell's Food For Thought


August 22, 2020


The Witch's Season, my first novel, has had a circuitous journey, even going back to when I started it in high school and a part of it appeared in Tableau, the Wheat Ridge High student literary magazine.


I came across my copy of that magazine today, plus two of my earlier stories from The Axe, the school paper at South Eugene High, that also provided some initial inspiration and additional plotline for the novel. 


Both the stories, written when I was 16, were about the Vietnam Veterans Against the War -- one on a forum put on by the local chapter and another on the Eugene appearance of a national VVAW leader.




His name was John Kerry.


It all was part of the roman a clef novel based on my father's Oregon teams, plus those tumultuous times on one of the nation's caludron campuses.   



The Witch's Season, named to honor a Donovan song popular when the novel takes place, but also to avoid duplicating the title of James Leo Herlihy's 1971 novel, The Season of the Witch, drew interest when a manuscript as a movie property, and was a rough draft screenplay long, long before I revisited and "finished" the novel version.


This was years before I stepped away from the project and broke in as an author with three non-fiction books.


I did lunch/cocktails at the Beverly Wilshire with a producer, but a screen project wasn't/hasn't been green-lighted. The producer had been a student radical at Michigan and recognized a bit of herself in Annie, the hothead SDS leader in The Witch’s Season


During that period, I was on a trip to Boston with the Mariners in the mid-'90s. I went to watch "All My Children's" Walt Willey do standup at a comedy club near Faneuil Hall. I was a devotee of the soap opera and I'd mentioned to the producer that I'd pictured Willey as a possibility to play the coach (modeled after Jerry Frei) in The Witch's Season. They did look a lot alike. Willey was fans' most popular of Erica Kane's eight husbands on AMC.


At the club, Willey was hilarious ... and, shall we say, more like George Carlin than many in the audience expected. I remember a story about a broken nose that can't be repeated here. I came away more convinced that he'd be great as Witch's Larry Benson. I guess we'd have to go after Brad Pitt now. I also cast my (irrelevant) vote for the actress to play Kit, the student reporter, but I'm embarrassed to say who it was now.



Jerry Frei                                               Walt Willey



The Witch's Season has been out as a novel since 2009, and it's finally now available in Kindle, too. It's fun to say many disagree with me and I thank them, but I've come around to believing that my two novels, The Witch's Season and Olympic Affair, are my best work -- better than the non-fiction books that have sold much better. (Funny how that works.) 


Here's the start of the full screenplay version, which I periodically reworked over the years, including again after the book came out. The most drastic revision is that Jake Powell, the radical linebacker who also is the leader of the Campus Coalition Against the War, now is a quarterback in the screenplay.        


Here's the book web site page. 


If I had to do it over again, I would have called it Must Be the Season of the Witch and would have skipped fogging up the setting, instead just letting it be Eugene, the Oregon Ducks and the University of Oregon.


I guess we could do that if the film gets made.