Monday, February 23, 2009

Screenwriting News & Links! 2/23/09

Oh my head...

Hey MM, what did you think of the Oscar winners?

Eh. Where's the coffee?



New Screenplay:

Slumdog Millionaire - August, 15, 2007 draft by Simon Beaufoy

(Hat-tip to


First, a few Oscar Links:

The complete list

Notable quotes from the 81st annual Academy Awards

Ryan Seacrest is a Douchebag

Slumdog Millionaire bags Oscar for best adapted screenplay

Here's The New York Times

Best Original Screenplay Winner Dustin Lance Black Backstage Q&A

Hunky Gay Man Wins For Best Screenplay

Dustin Lance Black's Oscar Acceptance Speech for Original Screenplay

Where are all the old fat screenwriters that we are used to seeing?

The funniest he's been since Shanghai Surprise

Big Picture: Not exactly an enchanted evening

Backstage: Kate Winslet hugs, Sean Penn on Mickey Rourke, more!

Reports from the theater, parties...and bathrooms!

I'm going back to bed...

Peter Bart’s
Oscar doesn't carry the same weight: How winning an award no longer cements career
Nothing we own today is worth what it was a year ago -- not our houses, our 401Ks, not even our careers. So with the Oscar noise at last dying down, it's worth asking whether even an Oscar is worth what it used to be. I would argue, hell no. For filmmakers, winning the top prize, or even a nomination, used to mean a ticket to creative autonomy as well as to plump paydays. Look what a Pulp Fiction best screenplay Oscar did for Quentin Tarantino in '94 or the screenplay Oscar for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for Good Will Hunting in '97. Well, not anymore. Tarantino's been busy, but we haven't seen much work from Bennett Miller (Capote), Taylor Hackford (Ray), Peter Weir (Master and Commander) or Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich) since their moments in the sun. Sure, these are talented guys with idiosyncratic tastes, but still, despite all the attention showered on them, they haven't been getting their work out there.

See also Cieply’s NYT article: Movers and shakers in the film industry don’t like to grumble openly about the Oscars. After all, nobody wants to be caught talking down a ritual that has been very good, for a very long time, to a very large number of people in the glamour business. Still, the Hollywood table-talk this year has been much less about Oscar prospects and more about the process. And an overriding theme is this: The movie prize cycle had better become shorter, brighter and more popular in its bent — or some major players are pulling back.

"2009 Spirit Awards: Truly Indie Anymore?" asks Nikki Finke.

Oscar-winning writer Ronald Harwood reveals what it's like to win
But – I whisper this – they’re terrible, a controlled, noisy chaos where no one seems to care who you are or what you’ve won. My wife and I went to three and they were all dreadful. At the Vanity Fair after-party, no one made us feel welcome, no one brought us a drink and only a polite few congratulated us. And at this point – under instruction not to put it down because they often get stolen – I was still clutching my Oscar.

Juno and the Best Screenplay Debacles of History
Great screenplays are a lot like sports officials in that the good ones stand back and orchestrate events, facilitating the flow of the action while doing their best to draw as little attention to themselves as possible. You know the referee has had a good game when you simply didn’t notice he was there and the same is true of a good screenwriter. But if there was ever a case of the writer speaking directly out of the mouth of the characters then Juno is it. The impossibly named Juno MacGuff comes across as a great many things: brave, smart and compassionate. But one thing she spectacularly fails to come across as is a 16-year-old high school girl and it is a testament to Page’s great ability that she could carry the film off while weighed down by a screenplay littered with distractions and attention seeking dialogue. Diablo Cody seems so desperate for some sort of validation from her audience that she is completely unable to detach herself from the story she is telling and ends up sounding like the worst kind of writer - one whose material so insists on itself that she not only tries to tell the adults what all the kids are into these days, she tries to tell the kids, too.


Simon Beaufoy: Looking for the Perfect Love Story

A Dustin Lance Black article called 30 Years Later
So much of what I’ve done in this business up to this point has been to make myself ready to take on the overwhelming responsibility of retelling Harvey’s story. It took many years of research, digging through archives, driving up to San Francisco in search of Harvey’s old friends and foes, charging a couple of nights at the Becks motor lodge on Market and Castro with my principal source, Harvey’s political protégé, Cleve Jones. What I discovered on those trips wasn’t the legend of the man that I’d heard in adolescence. What I discovered was a deeply flawed man, a man who had grown up closeted, a man who failed in business and in his relationships, a man who got a very late start. Through Harvey’s friends, foes, lovers, and opponents, I met the real Harvey Milk.

Also -
Hollywood slowly opening door to gay drama

Interview with Benjamin Button Screenwriter Eric Roth

Playwright Robert Anderson Dies at 91
He also wrote the film and television versions of most of his works, earning an Oscar nomination and WGA Award for I Never Sang For My Father. He also received an Oscar nomination for the screenplay for The Nun's Story and a Golden Globe Award nomination for The Sand Pebbles.

SAG rejects 'final offer' from AMPTP

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang - Screenwriter Sued by Ex-Girlfriend for $5 Million
Hollywood screenwriter Shane Black is being accused of terrorizing his former girlfriend, Sonya Popovich. She alleges he physically assaulted her on several occasions, often in a drug-fueled rage, and at one point even wielded a loaded weapon in her direction.

Colin Farrell splits with writer girlfriend, Emma Forrest
Actor Colin Farrell has reportedly split from his writer girlfriend Emma Forrest, after dating her for a year. According to US magazine In Touch, Forrest confirmed that the pair are no longer an item. Reports suggested that the split occurred because Forrest was unhappy with Farrell's lack of commitment to the relationship. A source said: "He would not introduce her to his family. She was also upset that he didn't thank her at the Golden Globe Awards."

Look. There’s an
Organization of Black Screenwriters. Who knew?

Catching Up With... Fanboys writer Ernie Cline
So, Lucas said, “Sure. Why not?” And that changed everything. For a while it looked like DreamWorks was going to make it. They told me Steven Spielberg was going to take the script home and read it. And I was like, “That’s not even possible.” But it was. It happened. But for whatever reason, DreamWorks said no. But somehow the script got to Harvey Weinstein and he read it. He flipped out for it. He loved it. He read it on a Friday night and by Saturday night he was on the phone with the producer saying, "I want to make this movie with you guys." That was 2005. And within four months they were shooting the movie. They started casting. And suddenly it was Carrie Fisher: Princess Leia was going to be in it. And Lando Calrissian, and William Shatner, and all these great actors. And I got to go and be an extra. I played one of the Star Trek guys in Riverside, Iowa. The reason I did that was because I could be in a scene with Shatner, not knowing that the day I’d get to meet him I would have to be in a Star Trek outfit, which was embarrassing.

Batman 3 Script Scoop
IGN Movies has learned that, as of right now, Christopher Nolan is the only screenwriter attached to Batman 3. Studios and guild members are required to submit work lists to the guilds of the projects that they are on. IGN has learned that a work list from Warner Bros. was submitted last week listing Christopher Nolan as the sole screenwriter on Batman 3. From what we've learned, The Dark Knight's Jonathan Nolan or David Goyer aren't officially involved in the script phase as of yet.

David Hayter talks Metal Gear Solid and Lost Planet Movies
Yes, very much like Dune. I don't have any original ideas! (laughs) Fortunately, I work in Hollywood and they don't want any.

David Hayter Insists Fox More Satanic Than Most Studios

Why Alan Moore Hates Comic-Book Movies
“The main reason why comics can’t work as films is largely because everybody who is ultimately in control of the film industry is an accountant. These people may be able to add up and balance the books, but in every other area they are stupid and incompetent and don’t have any talent. And this is why a film is going to be a work that’s done by dozens and dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of people. They’re going to show it to the backers and then they’re going to say, we want this in it, and this in it... and where’s the monster?”

BTW - Jon Savage traces the history of the smiley face.

Soderbergh and Dobbs battle in The Limey commentary
But even by his high standards, Soderbergh’s commentary with screenwriter Lem Dobbs on 1999’s The Limey is something special, a heated feature-length argument that couldn’t be further from the ego-stroking sycophancy of most tracks. It’s a case study in what happens to a script after it’s run through the sausage factory of production; even with a sympathetic director at the helm—Soderbergh championed Dobbs’ script for Kafka before making it his second feature, and the two remain friends—the writer will always get the shaft in the end. That’s why writers tend to be miserable cranks, and Dobbs is as cranky as they come; for his part, Soderbergh is magnanimous enough to take his licks and give a little back in return. Here’s Dobbs near the beginning of the commentary, setting the tone: “I’ll say, in your defense and mine, that screenwriting is a hopeless profession. My God, if Robert Towne can complain about Chinatown to this day, what do you want? Didn’t I fax you that interview with [writer] Alain Robbe-Grillet complaining about Last Year At Marienbad? [Director] Alain Resnais just totally fucked it up, Delphine Seyrig was completely wrong, ruined the whole movie. So if the screenwriters of Last Year At Marienbad and Chinatown can complain about what directors did, then what do you expect?

Superman Returns & X2: X-Men United Writer To Adapt Dead At 17

Hardy Men Gets A New Screenwriter
When we first heard about Hardy Men, it was well before Tropic Thunder, and the pairing of Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise in a buddy comedy sounded totally bizarre. Now, on the other side of Les Grossman, the idea sounds inspired-- and a new writer has been hired to hopefully get the project off the ground. Ed Solomon, who wrote Men in Black as well as Eddie Murphy's upcoming Imagine That, will try his hand at the script, which was mostly recently retooled by Mr. and Mrs. Smith writer Simon Kinberg. THR notes that Stiller and Cruise are still lined up to star, with Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy planning to direct.

Disney hires new scribe for 20000 Leagues

How to Write a Great Twist For Your Third Act
One way to improve a screenplay is to find a way to look at it from another viewpoint – whether the story is to be optimistic or pessimistic. If we take the notion of optimism versus pessimism and look to Aristotle, we can come up with a truly original ending for our scripts. Aristotle defined a "reversal" as being a plot change by which the action veers round to its opposite. According to Aristotle, the best reversals are caused by the main character’s recognition of something that causes the reversal, so it doesn’t come out of left field, that is, it must be subject to the boundaries of probability or necessity. The reversal arises out of the recognition of something that could have been seen before, but was not. This is where we reach those edges of boundaries that will help you find that original twist you were looking for.

History of Poop in Movies

Details about Spielberg's Lincoln


On the Contest Circuit:

Acclaim Announces Feature Contest Winners

Acclaim Announces TV Contest Winners

Two Scriptapalooza Alumni Get Projects Produced

CWA Announces 2008 Successes

First Glance Announces Feature Contest Winner

ScriptapaloozaTV Announces Contest Results

All Access Competition Announces Semifinalists

Free Screenplay Contest Announces Winners

Kairos Prize Announces Competition Winners

Big Bear Lake Announces 2008 Contest Results

American Screenwriting Competition Announces Semifinalists

L.A. Comedy Scripts Announces Finalists

Cowrite Announces Week 2 winner

Female Eye Announces Screenplay Winners

HSI Announces Latest Contest Winner


And Finally


John said...

I was barely a teenager when I first recognized the plight of the geek.  While chatting on irc, I grew quite upset when no one would believe I was a girl - they were sure someone who liked Nine Inch Nails and knew how to play Magic: the Gathering was more likely to be a 40-year-old man posing as jailbait.  Geek girls are not unicorns!  There are plenty of us out there. 

Laura Deerfield said...

maybe they had trouble believing you because your name is John?

Ugly Deaf Muslim Punk Gurl! said...

I was THRILLED how Dustin Lance Black won... he really deserves it.

In overall, I'm 90% happy with the Oscar winning results.

Nick H said...

Bah! Couldn't watch the Oscars because I don't have one of Rupert Murdoch's satellite dishes bolted to the side of my flat!


Avixai said...

Wow. So much in one post I don't know what to comment on, but if nothing else: "the pairing of Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise in a buddy comedy sounded totally bizarre."
Evidently, you have not seen this -


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised, mystery: you defended Juno (and Diablo Cody) to the bitter end last year, and now you link to an article that talks about how it (and she) didn't deserve the Best Oscar for screenwriting

Have you had a change of heart?

Very Puzzled

Mystery Man said...

Anon - I love posting controversial links even if I don't agree with them. It can come in handy later, just as a reference point.


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