Can You Rewrite a Script in Seven Days? I hear Fox is Hiring

by Paul William Tenny

No joke, according go the L.A. Times, 20th Century Fox is desperately searching for a writer to perform emergency surgery on the script for X-Men spinoff Wolverine with just seven days left before the WGA's contract with the producers expires on November 1st. I'm sure that given enough money and other incentives (I'd take a development deal over a pickup truck loaded with cash, nothing says you love me like commitment after all) someone with the appropriate level of talent could be found and the job done in the few days we have left before Hollywood beats the terrorists to ending the world first.

As the smog caked rag writes, Wolverine isn't the only project on a rush job right. The next week-and-a-half is probably the hardest anyone has worked since 1988 when the last strike cost the television and movie studios nearly half a billion dollars in lost revenue, and cost many writers their jobs, homes, and families as well.

"IT'S pencil down until midnight on Halloween," says Oscar-winning writer-producer Akiva Goldsman. That's his current schedule as he tries to finish up his latest draft of "Angels and Demons," the sequel to "The Da Vinci Code," before the Writers Guild contract expires Oct. 31. "It's unavoidably intensely stressful, but it's the way of the world right now."

Oddly enough, I imagine life hasn't been this good to established talent in a very long time. They've got dozens of studios rushing at them from all directions, money in hand - which is ironic given this strike is all about the studios being scrooges of epic proportions when it comes to paying writers fairly - in order to get all the scripts on the verge of being complete that last polish, or in the case of Wolverine, a complete rewrite in record time to save the film from being shelved rather than shot and released next year.

The studios have nobody to blame but themselves for this situation, and it's just insanely amusing that only when they are on the verge of causing a strike do they finally treat writers like the indispensable assets they actually are.

In September, the "G.I. Joe" team hired "Collateral" scribe Stuart Beattie to begin a total overhaul of the script. Beattie turned in his first draft by the beginning of October and is now busily working on a second set of revisions, which are due back to Paramount on Oct. 31.

"G.I Joe" is hardly the only potential 2009 blockbuster rushing to meet the strike deadline. Oscar winner Paul Haggis is plowing through James Bond 22. Since Oct. 1, Oscar nominee Scott Frank has been holed up with director Shawn Levy trying to pound out a shootable version of "Night at the Museum 2." For the last two weeks, Billy Ray has been polishing up "State of Play," a political thriller starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton that has already passed through the hands of "The Kingdom's" Matthew Carnahan, "The Bourne Identity's" Tony Gilroy and "The Queen's" Peter Morgan.

They treat writers like production assistants (no offense to PA's, by the way, I have far more respect for you and the work you do than I do these producers and studio execs) pay them garbage now, are trying to pay them less than garbage in this weeks negotiations, kick them off the set and send them home during production so inept directors can screw up months of hard work writing this stuff, and yet when you look at it on a work-produced basis, they can't possibly live without writers.

This a very insightful read that is more about the crazy state of things that shilling for one side or the other. Please read it if you have the time, you'll get a better idea of what is happening behind the scenes and it will give you a better appreciation of the entire deal that could well begin in 7-12 days and stretch well into next summer.
in Film, Labor


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    1 Comment

    First of all, I have now dashed hopes for the wolverine movie and I was so looking forward to it. Maybe Hugh Jackman can just jump around slashing and tearing with no dialogue and I'd still pay to see it though.
    Second, Angels and Demons is not the SEQUEL to the Da Vinci Code. It's a PREQUEL. Obviously, the reporter who wrote that tidbit in gray, has never read the books, which were so much better then the movie. That was the only Tom Hanks movie I have ever TURNED off about 30 minutes into it because I just couldn't sit through another minute. As bad as that was, I can't believe they are making another one, in which I'm sure Tom Hanks will play the same character as the books are all about his adventures. These movies could have EASILY been a modern day Indiana Jones phenomenon, but as much as I love Tom Hanks, he just can't cut it with these movies. Futhermore, if it's not the journalist who made the mistake about the prequel but the writers/producers who are treating it as a sequel, its doomed to fail before it ever gets off paper.

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