Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Screenwriting News & Links! 12/23/08

Hey guys,




New Screenplays!

Twilight - casting sides from script by Melissa Rosenberg

Sex and the City - November 4, 2007 draft by Michael Patrick King

RocknRolla - June 19, 2007 shooting script by Guy Richie

Frozen River - undated draft by Courtney Hunt

The Reader - undated draft by David Hare

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - October 30, 2007 revised draft by Eric Roth

Kung Fu Panda - June 3, 2008 final draft script by Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger

(Hat-tip to


MM in the news:

Mystery Man still missing after bridge fall
Umm, I’m right here.

Mystery Man still wanted after poppy box thefts
In that case, go look under that bridge.

Mystery Man helps foil knife robbery
Very true except for that part about wearing a fluorescent coat.

Mystery Man blamed for gruesome Tijuana deaths
Oh, puh-lease. I’m a lover, not a killer.

Mystery Man donates loads of groceries to food bank
Eh, Thanksgiving leftovers.

Eric Roth lost millions to Bernard Madoff
[Eric] Roth was nominated Thursday for a Golden Globe award as screenwriter of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And that same day, he learned that he lost all his retirement money to Bernard Madoff's alleged $50-billion Ponzi scheme.

James Cameron remakes Forbidden Planet?

Putin takes charge of local film industry
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is taking personal charge of progress in the development of the country's film industry as chairman of the government council on the progress of domestic cinematography, unveiled Monday. Putin will "personally supervise" government initiatives to support the film industry, according to the Russian federal press service… Russian reaction to the new council was muted. One experienced Russian film industryite told Daily Variety, "As usual, nothing good will come of it."

That Sound You Hear is All the Screenwriter’s Killing Themselves
By now you’ve no doubt heard about that 9 year old boy who got that book deal with Harper Collins. It’s all the wittisisms that a 9 year old boy can dish out on how to pick up girls. I’m not sure which one of his parents has something over one of the execs at the publisher or may have found an Ashley Madison partner that works over there, but something is definitely going on with that deal. And now, to rub salt in the wounds of all you unpublished screenwriters….Twentieth Century Fox just optioned the rights to turn the books (yes, there’s going to be 4 of them) into a movie.

“Plot. It builds character” t-shirt for screenwriters

Money 101 for Screenwriters
Don’t quit your job right away. Even if you sell a spec for $200K, it will be months before you see a cent. The studio will sit on your contract as lawyers exchange pencil notes about things you can’t believe aren’t boilerplate. When I was hired for my first job, it took almost four months before I got a paycheck. I was living off of money from a novelization, but when that ran out, I had to ask my mom for help paying rent. Nearly every screenwriter I speak with has a similar story — you’re never as broke as when you first start making money.

Germaine Greet trashes Australia
The scale of the disaster that is Baz Luhrmann’s Australia is gradually becoming apparent. When the film was released in Australia in November it found the odd champion, none more conspicuous than Marcia Langton, professor of Australian indigenous studies at Melbourne University, who frothed and foamed in the Age newspaper about this "fabulous, hyperbolic film". Luhrmann has "given Australians a new past", she gushed, "a myth of national origin that is disturbing, thrilling, heartbreaking, hilarious and touching". Myths are by definition untrue. Langton knows the truth about the northern cattle industry but evidently sees as her duty to ignore it, and welcome a fraudulent and misleading fantasy in its place, possibly because the fantasy is designed to promote the current government policy of reconciliation, of which she is a chief proponent.

Baz Luhrmann defends Australia
"You look at movies like Gone With the Wind and Old Hollywood classics, and they don't fit in any box....No large-scale movie doesn't have warts, just by its nature."

In the vid below, the audience members scream “murderer!” as Steven Soderbergh talks about Che

8 Most Ridiculous Plots of 2008
Wait, so the Joker really orchestrated that big truck chase just so that he could get caught and go to prison, then he could kidnap that guard and grab his phone to make the call to set off the bomb he'd previously sewn inside the henchman in the next cell? That would kill the guy who stole the mobsters' money, thus enabling him to … er, what? Heath Ledger's Joker may have been a psychopath, but he had a nerdish capacity for forward planning.

Frost/Nixon A Dishonorable Distortion of History
First of all, the whole arrangement between Frost and Nixon was dubious from the outset. While the script is straightforward about the fact that under their agreement Nixon was to be paid for the interviews (a then-whopping $600,000), a highly unusual arrangement, it omits the even more questionable part of the deal in which Nixon was guaranteed twenty percent of the profits from the sales of the interviews to television stations. Thus, the two purported gladiators were in business together, with a mutual interest in making the interviews interesting enough to make a nice profit. The deal also guaranteed that only one-fourth of the time would be devoted to Watergate, leaving Nixon the rest to ramble on about his foreign policy achievements - which in his mind included the invasion of Cambodia. To further disguise the degree to which the interview project was essentially a fix, the script of both the play and the movie simply leaves out the episode in which, after Nixon returned to his dressing room during a sudden break in the taping of the Watergate segment - the break misrepresented in the script as having been called for by Nixon aides worried their boss was becoming uncomfortable, whereas it was actually called for by Frost because he misread a cue card held up by the Nixon aides saying "Let him talk" - Nixon aide Jack Brennan (Kevin Bacon) told Frost's frustrated aides, "He knows he has to go further. He's got more to volunteer." These lines appear in neither the play nor the movie.

Peter Morgan re-tackles Tony Blair
Frost/Nixon playwright and screenwriter Peter Morgan is lining up his directorial debut, a film that would be the third movie in the Tony Blair trilogy launched in 2003 by Stephen Frears' British TV movie The Deal and followed by The Queen. Deal tracked the rise of Tony Blair, played by Michael Sheen. Frears and Sheen then reteamed for The Queen, which also starred Helen Mirren in her Oscar-winning turn. Morgan earned an Oscar nom for best original screenplay on the pic as well. The third movie, tentatively titled The Special Relationship, will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy and will again star Frost/Nixon thesp Sheen as Tony Blair.

Battle of Hastings to be Hollywood film
Three rival films are being made about the Battle of Hastings, after being overlooked by the film industry for decades.

The ABCs of a possible SAG strike

WGA Hopes You Won't Remember Who Directed The Dark Knight

Madea creator Tyler Perry faces Marshall law
Under copyright law, West was required to show that her play and Perry's film are substantially similar and that Perry had access to her work, so she argued among other things that the titles are similar, both are tales of divorce among black couples and both feature a scene involving an abusive man becoming paralyzed. On the access issue, West claimed she performed the play three times in 1991 in a Dallas theater and that the theater's manager could have slipped it to Perry in 1998 when he presented his plays there.

The Phantom Reboot Coming?
Screenwriter Tim Boyle has updated his MySpace page with some new information that this project is not a sequel, but a reboot of the original film. He gave a quick update on the film, which will be titled Phantom: Legacy, which you can read... Now that we've sort of got those 'Sequel' rumors under control, I guess I can start talking about what we're doing and where the project is at. First of all, I've got to say - this is a very exciting time. Being able to bring the first masked comic superhero back to the big screen is an absolute honor. I've been researching The Phantom intensely for the last year or so and I've been working with the support of King Features Syndicate to try and bring you the tightest possible film. Yes, this is a new look at the comic book hero, but rest assured - He wont be 'heavily gadget man' (as that is another comic book hero named Batman) and he wont be an 'angry mob killer' (as 'The Punisher' -Frank Castle has been made into a film 3 times - remember the Dolph Lundgren film - that too was shot in Australia... old skool). He will be, without doubt 'The Phantom'. A man who has sworn an oath to protect - but at what cost?

Valkyrie writer, Tom Cruise re-team
Valkyrie co-writer and producer Christopher McQuarrie is fast becoming a go-to guy for Tom Cruise. The scribe is now working on three post-Valkyrie projects designed as potential star vehicles for the actor. New Regency has set McQuarrie and Mason Alley to write Flying Tigers, based on the volunteer fighter squadron formed to help the Chinese fight the Japanese before the U.S. entered World War II.. McQuarrie also is writing and producing with Guillermo del Toro the previously announced United Artists project The Champions, penning the script with an eye toward hammering it into a Cruise vehicle. The British TV series transfer concerns a team of government agents rescued from a plane crash in the Himalayas by an advanced civilization and given superhuman abilities... But the Cruise-McQuarrie collaboration with the most urgency is Spyglass espionage drama The Tourist. McQuarrie is rewriting for Cruise to star with Charlize Theron in the Bharat Nalluri-directed remake of the 2005 French thriller Anthony Zimmer. Julian Fellowes originally scripted the redo.

Oscar Winner Takes On Salt Script
Brian Helgeland isn't the kind of screenwriter most moviegoers know by name-- but then again, how many screenwriters can anyone really name? But even if he flies under the radar, he's one of the bigger ones out there, having won an Oscar for writing L.A. Confidential as well as writing the words of Mystic River, A Knight's Tale and Conspiracy Theory. Now he's bringing his expertise to Salt, that spy project that was once about a man named Edwin Salt played by Tom Cruise, and now is Angelina Jolie playing Evelyn Salt. Moviehole says Sony has hired Helgeland to give the Salt script a pass, specifically to improve on the dialogue. Apparently Sony has a lot riding on Salt as a potential franchise-starter, getting Jolie away from "serious movie" mode and more into the ass-kicking role that made her famous.

Roger Avary Pleaded Not Guilty

Interview: The Wrestler Screenwriter Robert Siegel
"The Onion was a huge influence on my screenwriting, in that we had to crank out material every 7 days, so you couldn't really be precious about your writing," Siegel said last week at a junket for The Wrestler. "I have this hack writer kind of mentality-- I mean hack writer in a complimentary sense. You have to bang out a certain amount of copy whether the inspiration is there or not."

Simon Beaufoy writing for The Guardian
Only when he got lost in the slums of Mumbai did Simon Beaufoy understand what his latest script needed to be. He recalls the breathtaking inspiration for Slumdog Millionaire

Terry Gilliam Remembers Heath Ledger
In terms of his acting, it still rankles with me that he's dead because he would have been streets ahead of anyone else in his generation. He just kept getting better and better. He was fearless. On Parnassus, he was improvising all the time and it was better than what we had written. I don't normally encourage that kind of improvisation, but in a sense I felt Heath was writing this film. He was an incredibly funny performer when he wanted to be - his comic timing was just extraordinary - and then he could break your heart the next minute.

Web TV shows come of age
Now, two and a half years since LonelyGirl15 first appeared, web series are the hottest new format in Hollywood. No longer amateurish or user-generated in feel, the latest crop of webisodes are slick productions. Many boast celebrity involvement. In recent months, for example, web series have been launched by Ashton Kutcher (Blahgirls, an animated gossip site for girls), Stephen Colbert (Children's Hospital, a Grey's Anatomy spoof starring Will & Grace's Megan Mullally), and Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane (Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy, a cartoon sketch show). Also in the pipeline are projects from Josh Schwartz (creator of Gossip Girl and The OC), the Coen brothers and film directors Bryan Singer and David Lynch. In the United States, all the leading studios have digital arms (including HBOlab, Warner Bros' Studio 2.0 and Sony's Crackle) which produce spin-off web series from mainstream shows (such as The Wire and Gossip Girl) as well as original content.

The 100 Proof Film Guide

Hemingway’s Tip for Would-Be Writers
I very much enjoyed Alexander Theroux's Dec. 9 review of "The Paris Review Interviews, Vol. III," offering conversations with writers from the 1950s. But my favorite quote is in Vol. I of the series, from George Plimpton's interview with Ernest Hemingway in the Spring 1958 edition of the Paris Review in which Mr. Plimpton asked, "What would you consider the best intellectual training for the would-be writer?" To which Mr. Hemingway replied, "Let's say that he should go out and hang himself because he finds that writing well is impossibly difficult. Then he should be cut down without mercy and forced by his own self to write as well as he can for the rest of his life. At least he will have the story of the hanging to commence with."

UK Copyright Issues for Writers

Local screenwriter's dream finally comes true
Last year -- Aug. 8 to be exact, coincidentally Thompson's birthday -- he got an e-mail from an agency to which he had submitted "Born of Earth." He was playing guitar and hanging out with some friends when he read it. They wanted to buy his script. "My knees buckled," he said. "I printed it out and I ran around and showed all my friends. I still feel like a kid thinking about it."

A Wretch Like Joe Eszterhas
At his career zenith, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas wrote lines like these for his characters: "The Farmer in the Dell, The Farmer in the Dell, I had a cherry once, and now it's gone to hell," and "come back when you've f***ed some of this baby fat off. See ya." Now, in what can only be called a spiritual memoir, Eszterhas is writing his own lines, "How ya doin', God? Haven't seen you in a while," and — addressing the Lord again — "I'm sorry. I've acted like a colossal A-hole. I'm really really sorry. I don't deserve to be forgiven, but please try to forgive me." The screenwriter who gave us Sharon Stone's uncrossing legs in Basic Instinct had contracted throat cancer, and later, Christianity. Now he is crossing himself, hoping not to die.

Brian Goodman: Dark Past, Brighter Future
Since he gave up drinking, Goodman has transformed himself from an ex-con to a noted character actor in such films as The Last Castle, Annapolis and Munich. And now, he can add screenwriter and feature director to his list of accomplishments. His first film, What Doesn't Kill You, a gritty, semi-autobiographical look at his life of crime starring Mark Ruffalo as his reel counterpart, opened Friday for one-week theatrical run to qualify for awards consideration. Ethan Hawke plays Paulie, a partner in crime of Ruffalo's character.

Why Screenplay Contests Matter

Another John Patrick Shanley Interview
I was really curious about the different mindset that goes into writing something specifically for a film or for the stage. Obviously, it's a very different process for getting a film made, and it costs a lot more money than getting it on Broadway or getting some actors together to do a play. It must involve a different mindset as a writer as well.
Right, the thing is that modern theater is different than theater was forty years ago, because there is less money in the theater than there used to be and as a result, you employ fewer actors to tell a story. The sort of new ideal is to write a play that has a Japanese bone-like simplicity to it and to tell an elaborate tale using only like three or four or five people. Certainly that's the case with Doubt. There's only four characters in the play, and that's it. But what happens is when you take a play like that and it's time to turn it into a film, it makes it a much tougher nut to crack initially than plays of previous years. If you take a play Of Mice and Men or Stalag 17 or A Streetcar Named Desire or A Miracle Worker – if you go back and look at those, there's like twenty people in the play. So that when you go to open it up, it already has a certain scope to it, and by the time you get to the late '80s or into the '90s, the plays most of the time have very few characters. Most of those plays when they're turned into films fail, because you really have to go back and break the hypnotic spell you put yourself under as a playwright to convince yourself that this was the best way to tell the story, which was to leave everybody out. (laughs) Once you break that spell, then you could go ahead and open the thing up in a meaningful way, but you really do have to re-conceive the way you thought about your film. You have to look at the story itself simply from the characters and think about, "How do I tell this story in an organic way rather than using these extreme restrictions that I work under in the theater?" This extreme artifice is now removed, and then you realize things like when you're doing "Doubt"... "Oh, I guess you know, this kid that they're fighting over, he has to be in the movie." (laughs) And in the play, there's no kids at all.

Watchmen and the demise of superhero cinema
It is this newly cynical, hardened cinema into which Watchmen will be born, and there is perhaps no better example of how a superhero comic – some bright ink drawings on a page, accompanied by scraps of spoken and written words – can encapsulate all the personal, political and international complexities of modern life. Much like Pixar’s canny The Incredibles, Watchmen begins in a world in which superheroes have played their part and have now become a dangerous, unpredictable liability; with a growing nuclear threat from the Soviet Union, the incumbent Richard Nixon-led government cannot afford to be accountable for impulsive, unregulated heroes. As a result, they have been banned by the Keene Act and must either conscript to governmental service or find new roles in society. When The Comedian (the alias of a member of a former superhero team) is mysteriously murdered, other former members of the team – led by the sinister vigilante Rorschach – suspect they are being targeted and covertly reunite. The crux of the story’s moral dilemma comes in the form of Ozymandias, a former superhero who has become the world’s wealthiest man, and whose utilitarian principles fuel the novel’s perplexing, terrifying finale.

Ordinary People, Big Dramas
Portrayals of extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances -- from Queen Elizabeth and Edith Piaf to plutocrat Daniel Plainview -- regularly and readily get award attention, filling the bigscreen as the protagonists chew on momentous events and (quite often) all available scenery. But 2008's roster of screenwriting hopefuls include several films that embrace the commonplace: ordinary folks confronting everyday, but no less grave, concerns of food, shelter and social intercourse. "I know, in my whole body, that life is so full of adventure, and there's a lot of heroism going on with people staying in their homes," says Frozen River scribe-helmer Courtney Hunt. "The challenge is to have elements of danger and risk without becoming melodramatic."

Scribe attached to new Jack Ryan pic
Screenwriter Hossein Amini has been hired to tackle a new Jack Ryan movie for Paramount Pictures. The erstwhile intelligence analyst and all-American do-gooder created by novelist Tom Clancy has not appeared onscreen since 2002's The Sum of All Fears. Mace Neufeld and Lorenzo Di Bonaventura are producing the project for Paramount. Spider-Man director Sam Raimi was on the hook to direct and produce a new Ryan installment, but his packed schedule made his involvement unworkable... Amini is best known for his literary adaptations of Henry James, Thomas Hardy and Elmore Leonard. His new Ryan film is planned as an origin story, not derived from Clancy's novels and ultimately featuring a new, younger star.

The Physics of Kirk’s Star Trek Car Jump
The car is traveling about 32 meters per second off the cliff. Kirk is moving at an estimated speed of 28 m/s towards the cliff edge. Of course, the Popular Science article uses all sorts of complicated equations to figure this out (some of which are seen in the photo above). The conclusion is that James T. Kirk would have to exert a force of almost 900 pounds with his fingers to stop from being flung over the precipice. This would probably be impossible for most humans, but of course — not for Captain Kirk. You can read the whole physics calculation over on PopSci.com.

Bob Orci Explains How The New Star Trek Movie Fits With Trek Canon (and Real Science)
So even though some things, most notably Kirk himself, are on a different path (for example he doesn’t go to the Farragut after the Academy), he still ends up on the Enterprise with Scotty, Uhura, Chekov, Spock, etc. Are you saying there is some kind of ‘entropy’ perhaps? So even though some things are different, they gravitate towards some kind of center point?
Yes. If you look at quantum mechanics and you learn about the fact that our most successful theory of science is quantum mechanics, and the fact that it deals with probabilities of events happening. And that the most probable events tend to happen more often and that one of the subsets of that theory is the many universe theory. Data said this [in "
Parallels"], he summed up quantum mechanics as the theory that "all possibilities that can happen do happen" in a parallel universe. According to theory, there are going to be a much larger number of universes in which events are very closely related, because those are the most probable configurations of things. Inherent in quantum mechanics there is sort of reverse entropy, which is what you were trying to say, in which the universe does tend to want to order itself in a certain way. This is not something we are making up; this is something we researched, in terms of the physical theory. So yes, there is an element of the universe trying to hold itself together.

Writing Scripts Takes Commitment - Who knew?

Hot Tub Machine Writer Speaks Out
First of all, yes, Jason Heald is a typo (thanks Hollywood Reporter). My name is Josh Heald. [He had a bit part in Harold & Kumar earlier this year, as seen above.] As for the screenplay -- without patting myself on the back, Hot Tub Time Machine is probably the greatest gift anyone's ever given the world. Time will show that it ranks up there with the Statue of Liberty and free Internet porn.


On the Contest Circuit

Screenplay Festival Announces Semifinalists

IP Screenwriting Contest Announces Finalists

WriteSafe Announces Contest Winners

PAGE Award Winners in the News

WriteSafe Announces Finalists

Cinema City Announces Screenplay Winners

Script Savvy Announces October, 2008 Contest Winners

WriteSafe Announces Semifinalists


And Finally…

Peter and Bobby Farrelly Interview


David Alan said...

Eric Roth lost millions to Bernard Madoff -- Maybe this Bernard fucker should fall from a bridge?

That Sound You Hear is All the Screenwriter’s Killing Themselves -- Hahaha...this would be so funny if it were true. Wait...

Baz Luhrmann defends Australia -- Did he seriously just mention Australia in the same breath as Gone with the Wind? You have to be kidding me...Australia couldn’t sniff Gone with the Wind’s jockstrap. That dude needs to seriously check himself.

Oh, and Australia does fit into a box...the two-for-a-dollar one at Wal-Mart.

Soderbergh talks about Che -- I for the life of me can’t imagine why people might be upset at someone making a movie that glorifies a brutal dictator. Nope, I just can’t imagine.

(And no, I haven’t nor plan on seeing it. Don’t give a fuck.)

Frost/Nixon A Dishonorable Distortion of History -- Since when has Hollywood been true to history?

WGA Hopes You Won't Remember Who Directed The Dark Knight -- Again, are you fucking kidding me? Did he not write and direct it? So, doesn’t that make it a film by Chris Nolan?

Also...while we are on the subject...how does Steven Spielberg get the credit on his goddamn films? After all, he hasn’t written a script in forever.

Am I missing something here?

The Phantom Reboot Coming -- I can’t express to you in words how good it is to see a shitty film being remade for a change.

Oscar Winner Takes On Salt Script -- It’s not worth its salt. That’s what the first bad review is going to say because, you know, critics are witless.

Terry Gilliam Remembers Heath Ledger -- Parnassus is going to be a full-on-shit-kicking movie. I cannot wait to see it.

Scribe attached to new Jack Ryan pic –- "His new Ryan film is planned as an origin story, not derived from Clancy's novels and ultimately featuring a new, younger star."

Why the hell not? Clancy’s a hack. What does he know? It isn’t like he’s sold a billion books or anything.

Seriously, is a monkey making decisions for Paramount? This is a horrible waste of resources and time. Why don’t they bring back Ford and adapt the Jack Ryan novel that follows him to the White House? That’d be far superior to this.

Another thing, isn’t Jack a manly character? Do those even exist in Hollywood anymore?

Writing Scripts Takes Commitment -- "Who knew?"


Well played.

Gran Torino -- See it. That is all.

-- David Alan

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

a 9 years old boy landed a book deal with Harpercollins? You are shitting me, right? What a fucking joke.

Just downloaded The Reader and Curious Case of BB screenplays, I look forward to seeing both films.


GregM said...

Wow, that's a lot of links. Mystery Man, I will *definitely* be back. I have to say, though, the essay about Frost/Nixon seemed to be carping about what were relatively minor points (the kinds you'd find in any historical film). And yeah, I'm psyched to see Parnassus as well.

Crumbs said...

The flying fuck? "Yeah right" about Man on Wire? Isn't Man on Wire a true story?

Guardian.co.uk, do some fucking research.

Mystery Man said...

Hey guys,

I truly apologize for my delay in responding to the comments. I’ve been traveling so much this holiday, that I wrote a bunch of articles in advance and scheduled them to be published while I was gone.

David - Hehehe... That was hilarious.

Deaf – I loved Button! I’m going to write an article about it eventually, but I’d like to see it twice first. It’s quite the rule-breaker.

GregM – Hey, I like to post controversial links. That doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with what’s said. It’s boring when everything’s all roses and butterflies.

Crumbs – Hehehe…

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