The story’s coming to an end for Broadway‘s Big Fish, the stage version of Tim Burton’s 2003 film that opened just three months ago. The show’s final performance is slated for Sunday, December 29, 2013 at NYC’s Neil Simon Theatre. Middling ticket sales had dropped to below 50% of potential gross by last week. The production opened stocked with legit award-winners onstage and behind the curtain, under the direction of five-time Tony-winner Susan Stroman. Big Fish was adapted for the stage by John August from his own BAFTA-nominated screenplay based on the novel by Daniel Wallace. Grammy- and Tony-nominated Andrew Lippa provided music and lyrics for the story of a man determined to uncover the truth behind his salesman father’s fabulous tall tales. Tony-winning thesp Norbert Leo Butz stars in the production, which first opened in Chicago in April. Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen produced the show. “Middle isn’t the end. Even the end isn’t really the end. We’re so unbelievably lucky to do this,” Tweeted August on Sunday.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing that Dexter star Michael C. Hall is negotiating to play the lead in Big Fish on Broadway next year. Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks, who produced the Tim Burton-directed film, are producing the musical stage adaptation. Susan Stroman (The Scottsboro Boys) is directing and Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family) wrote the music. John August wrote the book for the musical, based on his movie script from the novel by Daniel Wallace. It is expected to be quite the stage event. The part was originally written for Hugh Jackman, but his movie schedule got in the way and the producers turned to Hall. Before he became TV’s best-known serial killer by merit of the Showtime series, Hall performed in numerous musicals that include Cabaret and Chicago, so he’s certainly got the chops to play Edward Bloom, the man who filled his son’s head with so many unbelievable adventures that occurred during the course of his life. Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney played that role in the movie.
I Am Number Four director DJ Caruso has tweeted he will direct the John August scripted Preacher for Sony Pictures based on the comic book series. Since nobody has hollered at him, we’ll assume he has the job.
So Amazon decides to form Amazon Studios and to give away $2.7 million to wannabe screenwriters. (Here’s the actual 21-page Amazon Studios Development Agreement contract they have to sign.) Sounds good, right? Not necessarily creatively or financially. It’s easy to understand why Amazon wants to get involved with the creation of entertainment and not just its distribution. Or why filmmakers would want to break into the biz through this contest that gets them noticed, lets them win money, and maybe even lets Warner Bros release their movies. But a growing echo chamber of Hollywood scribes is warning wannabes to beware because of problems with copyright, authorship, Amazon Studios’ free 18-month option on a writer’s work the moment it’s uploaded, and rewriting by Amazon readers. Here’s some of the most confounding language:
Amazon Studios invites filmmakers and screenwriters from all over the world to submit full-length movies and scripts, which will then get feedback from Amazon readers, who will be free to rewrite and amend. Based on reaction (“rate and review”) to stories, scripts and rough “test” films, a panel of judges will award monthly prizes… You agree to be automatically entered into any future contests for which your work is eligible. The specific contest rules for future contests will be posted on this page when they are announced.
Prominent scribe and blogger John August asks this: ”Do you really want random people rewriting your script? To me, this feels like the biggest psychological misstep of the venture… Sure, most aspiring screenwriters …
It wasn’t unprovoked. Actress Jessica Alba dissed screenwriters to Elle magazine. Here’s the posting from Big Fish and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory scripter John August’s blog:
I have to believe she was misquoted, or excerpted in some unflattering way, because Jessica Alba couldn’t have actually said this:
Good actors, never use the script unless it’s amazing writing. All the good actors I’ve worked with, they all say whatever they want to say.
Oh, Jessica. Where to start?
Scripts aren’t just the dialogue. Screenplays reflect the entire movie in written form, including those moments when you don’t speak. Do you know the real reason we hold table readings in pre-production? So the actors will read the entire script at least once.
Following your logic, you’ve never been in a movie with both good actors and amazing writing. That may be true, but it might hurt the feelings of David Wain, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller.
You’re saying your co-stars who delivered their lines as written are not “good actors.” Awkward.
You’re setting dangerous expectations. So if an aspiring actor wishes to be “good,” she should say whatever she wants to say? That’s pretty terrible advice.
Screenwriters can be your best friends. We are pushovers for attractive people who pay attention to us. I wrote that bathtub scene in Big Fish because Jessica Lange made brief eye contact with me. So if you’re not getting great writing — and honestly, you’re not — ask to have lunch with the screenwriter. I’ve seen you on interviews. You’re charming.
Screenwriter John August has posted this anonymous video, “The Pitch”, on his website to illustrate his recent rant, Why must we have board-game movies?. “It’s not that Hollywood is out of ideas. It’s that the industry is terrified of failure, and clings to the safety of recognizable titles. In difficult times, it’s comfort food.”