7 Questions with James Renner

The local author’s first novel is getting a timeslot on Fox.

by Megan Combs

When you’re James Renner and something is meant to be, there are clear signs (trust me). That’s how he ended up in the Fox Mulder Room at Fox Studios in Los Angeles.

The local author is getting a TV show based off of his 2012 debut novel “The Man From Primrose Lane.” The murder mystery largely takes place in Akron and the surrounding areas, and Renner is pushing for local scenes to be filmed here. The 10-episode series will air on Fox in 2017, backed by production company Working Title.

Primrose was first optioned as a movie for Bradley Cooper at Warner Brothers, and they had 18 months to turn it into a feature film. When that didn’t happen and the option came back to Renner, he wrote a television pilot that his agents decided to ship around. He flew out to LA and had meetings with dozens of networks, with Working Title and his pilot director Alexandre Aja in tow. After returning from LA, he got a call that one more network wanted to hear his show pitch: Fox.

“When we got there, the meeting room was called the Fox Mulder Room,” Renner smiled. “No one knew how big of a geek I am for the X-Files. I was gushing. It was surreal.”


What was your reaction when you found out you were getting a show?

I got a call from my agency and they told me there were about 10 people on the line. That can either be really bad or really good. I could hear them talking excitedly in the background, and someone came on the line and said, “It’s a done deal. You sold a show to Fox.”

My reaction was, “Holy shit.”


What excites you most about shooting the show?

Walking on set when we do scenes that take place at the alternative weekly magazine where David Neff works because it’s based off where I used to work. It’ll be so trippy. It’ll be like John Malkovich going into his own head.


Is there anything that makes you nervous about filming?

Season 2.



I want there to be one.


Who would play you in a movie about yourself?

David Duchovny.


What song has to be on the soundtrack to your show?

“My City Was Gone,” by the Pretenders. But I’d also like to to have lots of local music from bands like The Black Keys, Chrissie Hynde, Michael Stanley and Bethesda.


What advice would you give someone who is trying to follow in your footsteps?

My advice to get in the room with these people (networks) is to get a good agent to open that door for you.  You need to have a unique idea that no one else has come up with. For me, it was that I wrote Primrose out of frustration for not being able to solve the Amy Mihaljevic murder case.

James Renner has also penned “The Great Forgetting,” and more recently “True Crime Addict.” Visit his website at JamesRenner.com.


In a non-stalker way, Megan thinks it’s pretty cool she has Renner’s number in her phone.


(Both photos provided by James Renner.)