Friday, July 18, 2008

Book: Screen Plays, by David S. Cohen (2008)

On this week’s episode of TCM’s Elvis Mitchell: Under The Influence, Bill Murray was the latest person to voice the truism that it takes a lot of work to make any movie, even a bad one. Plenty more ammo can be found in Screen Plays, subtitled How 25 Scripts Made It To A Theater Near You – For Better Or Worse.

Cohen, expanding on features he wrote for Script magazine, traces the histories of two dozen films through the eyes of their writers. He includes a broad range of titles from every genre, studio and indie fare, originals and adaptations, hits and misses. The strongest sections detail the sturm und drang of big-budget productions: David Franzoni getting fired from Gladiator, based on his original idea, while remaining as producer; Ken Nolan climbing back on the merry-go-round after being replaced by bigger names on Black Hawk Down; Leslie Dixon writing Pay It Forward “almost in spite of the premise.” Some of the most instructive material is in Cohen’s introduction chronicling his own screenwriting career, which consists of a single episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His limited experience is a Hollywood fractal. The part contains the whole.

TV: The Emmy Nominations

They’re out. But as always, you’ve got to go deep to find the real contests. Two songs from Flight of the Conchords versus “I’m F***ing Matt Damon”? I expect blood on the walls.

On The Web: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Why am I extending the awesome cachet of VKDC to this little web venture? It’s pretty damn funny, for one thing. But mainly it’s because Joss Whedon needs my help.