Ray Richmond is an AwardsLine contributor
This year’s crop of Emmy nominees in writing for drama series, comedy series, and movie/miniseries/special include a good mix of first-time nominees, including Lena Dunham for HBO’s Girls and Amy Poehler for NBC’s Parks and Recreation. But the real question is, which of the three writing noms that AMC’s Mad Men earned will turn into a statuette at this year’s ceremony? What follows is our handicap of everyone’s chances:
Chris McKenna Community, “Remedial Chaos Theory” (NBC)
Lena Dunham Girls, “Pilot” (HBO)
Louis C.K. Louie, “Pregnant” (FX)
Amy Poehler Parks and Recreation, “The Debate” (NBC)
Michael Schur Parks and Recreation, “Win, Lose or Draw” (NBC)
What really distinguishes the category this time is the rare presence of two women here: indie film prodigy Dunham for the Girls pilot and Poehler for the Parks and Recreation episode “The Debate.” It’s exceedingly rare to have two females in the comedy writing lineup in the same Emmy year. In fact, the last time it happened was 2002, when Jennifer Crittenden landed a nom for Everybody Loves Raymond and Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky were honored for Sex and the City
Related: EMMYS: The Directors Race Read More »
Lily Collins, Logan Lerman, Nat Wolff, Liana Liberato, and Kristen Bell have joined the cast of Writers, a comedy-drama starring Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly. Josh Boone wrote the script and is making his feature directing debut on the film, which begins shooting next week in North Carolina. Judy Cairo of Informant Media is producing. Writers follows the members of the Borgens family and their love interests over the course of one tumultuous year. Kinnear plays Bill Borgens, a famous novelist obsessed with his ex-wife (Connelly). Collins plays their daughter Samantha, who is pursued by a fellow writing student (Lerman). Wolff plays Samantha’s teenage brother, who is experiencing first love with Kate (Liberato). Bell plays Tricia, Bill’s friend with benefits who tries to help him get over his ex-wife. Informant was behind last year’s Crazy Heart and also has the Maggie Gyllenhaal-starrer Hysteria set for release May 18 via Sony Classics and Aaron Eckhart-starrer The Expatriate in the can. Informant’s Michael A. Simpson and Eric Brenner, and The Solution’s Myles Nestel and Lisa Wilson are executive producing. The film is produced in association with MICA Entertainment. CAA represents domestic rights to the film.
(Photos: Getty Images)
Thursday night’s lively Emmy-nominee cocktail reception for the writers branch at the Television Academy was the 20th nightly peer group gathering taking place there during the past month, “an incredible pre-Emmy marathon,” said writers branch co-governor Margaret Nagle, who gave special mention to the Academy’s Barbara Chase for organizing each of the events.
The Academy transformed the interior lobby of the Goldenson Theatre into something that looked like a New Orleans bordello — “What better setting than to celebrate writing, the world’s true oldest profession,” said one wag – and there was an elaborate setup outside as well in the plaza area for nominated and non-nominated writers to network and talk business.
Midway through, guests and nominees were shepherded inside the massive 600-seat theater for a breezy clip reel showcasing all the noms from the five writing categories and then the presentation of nominee certificates presided over by the evening’s host, The Office‘s Kate Flannery. The event made everyone feel like a winner before Sunday night, when the majority of them will become “losers.” Read More »
It wasn’t on DreamWorks Animation’s updated release slate that came out earlier this month (that ends with How To Train Your Dragon 2 in June 2014), but Megamind writers Brent Simons and Alan J. Schoolcraft have been tapped to develop a movie starring the penguins from the studio’s Madagascar franchise. The flightless foursome already have a hit cartoon series on Nickelodeon, The Penguins of Madagascar, so consider a built-in audience secure.
WGAE president Michael Winship and WGAW president John Wells announced that members overwhelmingly approved amendments to the Screen and Television Credits Manuals that make it easier for hyphenates to get screen credit. On the movie side, 85.7% of membership (1237 yes votes, 197 no votes) approved a change where writers who are also on the project in directing or producing capacities and subsequently get involved in rewriting, need to be judged responsible for a 33% contribution to receive credit on a non-original screenplay. The former standard was 50%. There is potential for good and bad in this one for writers. The upside: as more screenwriters become producers, they won’t be penalized for become entrepreneurial. The challenge: directors who run a script through their typewriter are now more likely to get shared screenwriting credits. There is a lot of residuals money on the line here, particularly on big hits. If more directors take it upon themselves to write, this is a potentially important issue.
A whopping 91.4% of membership approved a proposal that calls for a teleconference between arbitrators on decision where they have reviewed credit appeals but did not come to a unanimous arbitration decision. The identity of the arbitrators is always kept secret, and that would remain so in the teleconference, but it is an opportunity to discuss and perhaps come to a consensus. If no unanimous decision is reached, the majority will win out. A total of 1310 voted … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In a move that has writers and their reps buzzing, Warner Bros has just put out word that it will start to enforce delivery dates on first screenplay drafts. That means writers who signed contracts had better deliver on time, or risk the wrath of the studio. Deadlines are rarely enforced by studios, under the “better late and great” rationale. Writers function better under deadline, but scribes say procrastination isn’t the reason they fall behind on delivery dates. Low to mid-level writers are double-booking to make ends meet in an age when studios routinely slash writer quotes and offer one-step deals that leave scribes wondering if they’ll be jobless in three months. Some writers saw the Warner Bros move as another example of Read More »
I hear that Chris Hart, whose contract was coming up at ICM and signaled he wanted to leave, is UTA-bound. Meanwhile, I’ve learned about an interesting tiff between UTA and WME — or, more specifically, Jim Berkus and Robert Newman. Napoleon Dynamite writer/director Jared Hess and his screenwriting partner/wife Jerusha Hess have discharged WME’s Robert Newman after a 6-month stint and returned to their first agent, UTA chairman Jim Berkus. It seems Berkus originally signed the duo out of Sundance in 2004 when Napoleon Dynamite made its debut to become an indie phenom and cult hit. Berkus then helped to package their follow-up Nacho Libre that Jared directed from a script by both Hesses and Mike White. Berkus also recently got his longtime client Wes Anderson back from WME’s Newman after a brief stint. I love the smell of napalm in Hollywood.
Fanboys screenwriter Ernie Cline scored a mid-six figure advance from Random House for North American rights to Ready Player One, his debut young adult novel. International rights are being shopped, and the movie crowd will be kicking the tires on it starting tomorrow Farah Films & Management’s Dan Farah and Foundry Literary are shopping it. A teenager named Wade Watts escapes his bleak surrounds by logging into Oasis, a globally networked virtual utopia where users lead idyllic alternate lives. When the game’s eccentric billionaire creator dies, he offers up his fortune as the prize in an elaborate treasure hunt. Watts is pitted against powerful corporate foes and ruthless competitors who’ll do anything, in the Oasis and real world, to reach the treasure first.
Publisher Little, Brown tells me Stephenie Meyer’s novella “for the fans” has sold 226,589 copies so far in the UK. Waterstones, the largest bookshop chain, expects it to be the biggest-selling book of the year.
The £11:99 ($17.8) Twilight novella is mostly selling at less than half price, mostly due to heavy supermarket discounting. What’s remarkable is that you can read The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner for free on Meyer’s website until midnight on July 5. But then Meyer turns everything she touches into witchy gold, from movies to books to internet traffic. The Twilight Saga has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, translated into nearly 50 languages.
EXCLUSIVE (Updated with a mini Q&A with Mara Altman): HBO is developing a comedy about a young woman’s quest to achieve the female orgasm. No, this is not a Sex and the City spinoff about Samantha’s twenties. The pay cable network has optioned the non-fiction book Thanks For Coming: A Young Woman’s Quest For An Orgasm, with Grumpy Old Men scribe Mark Steven Johnson on board to adapt and Pretty In Pink helmer Howard Deutch attached to direct.
Thanks For Coming, which was published by HarperCollins last year, was written by Mara Altman, who will serve as a consultant on the HBO project, also tentatively titled Thanks For Coming.
In the book, Altman, a former staff writer for The Village Voice, chronicles her experiences of a twenty-six-year-old, attractive, successful, single woman in New York who’d never had an orgasm and sets out on a journey to achieve it. Johnson recently directed the romantic comedy When In Rome.
Since finishing Thanks For Coming, Altman has been working on another, a novel, while also writing a small book about cacti and succulents as well as freelancing for magazines like New York and Inside Jersey. She answered a few questions about her experiences, her book and her HBO project.
How do you feel about the possibility of your book becoming an HBO series?
Altman: I’m very excited about the prospect of HBO adapting my book for a comedy … Read More »
Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, co-organisers of next week’s scriptwriting masterclass at the Edinburgh Film Festival, have chosen Jack Thorne to be one of the writers coached during the event. Thorne, who is adapting Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down for Posey and Dwyer, will join nine other British screenwriters taking part in the year-long course. Public funders Skillset and Scottish Screen are funding this masterclass. Tutors include directors Jane Campion (Bright Star), Mike Leigh (Vera Drake), John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) and writer Ronald Harwood (The Pianist). Not that you or I will be able to listen to their wisdom. This masterclass is strictly behind closed doors.
Kate Leys, the ex-Film4 development head who’s co-running The Story Works, accepts Thorne’s inclusion could be controversial. She says it’s inevitable in an industry as small as Britain’s that those picked will have worked with course advisers.
She wishes there was more she could do to open up The Story Works to the public. But everybody taking part has signed non-disclosure agreements so they can talk freely. Some nuggets may be posted online.
Participants seem pretty high-end to me. Among the chosen few are Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare At Goats), Nathan Parker (Moon) and Olivia Hetreed (Girl With a Pearl Earring). Surely writers with one feature film credit already under their belts don’t need public support. Leys counters that the 10 may seem established by UK standards, but in Hollywood terms they’re almost complete … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The London-based production company is turning Shari Low’s bestselling chick-lit novel A Brand New Me into a romantic comedy. Mimi Hare and Clare Naylor, screenwriters of The Accidental Husband, are adapting the screenplay. Hare and Naylor have written a couple of chick-Lit novels themselves, The Second Assistant and The First Assistant. The deal is something of a family affair for Curtis Brown: Low is represented by Sheila Cowley, while Tally Garner negotiated Hare and Naylor’s deal with Universal Pictures.
2ND UPDATE (below): I can report exclusively that the Writers Guild recently decided the credits on The A-Team, the movie based on the ’80s TV show and opening this weekend. There were 11 screenwriters who worked on the film — 5 single writers and 3 teams of two: Kevin Broadbin, Bruce Feirstein, Jayson Rothwell, Laurence M. Konner and Mark Rosenthal, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, Skip Woods, Joe Carnahan & Brian Bloom, Mathew Carnahan. And that’s with the interruption of the writers strike. The final credit now reads: “Written by Joe Carnahan & Brian Bloom and Skip Woods. Created by Frank Lupo & Stephen J. Cannell.” In other words, 11 writers, and in the end, the director and his partner get first position credit. The WGA has a history of idiotic credits decisions. But the story behind these 11 writers that interests me most is how Alex Young lost control of The A-Team.
The pic comes out Friday following almost 10 years in development, millions of dollars in script costs, all for a movie version of a forgotten TV show that 20th Century Fox already is predicting to reporters may not gross more in its opening weekend than the recent 4th installment of the Die Hard franchise. Not since examples like Sister Act and Armegeddon and G.I. Joe have so many screenwriters labored so much to produce so little. (This is not … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: 100 Questions creator Christopher Moynihan has inked a two-script deal with ABC Studios to write and executive produce two comedy projects for the studio. The projects will be co-produced by Tagline Pictures whose sister management company Thruline Entertainment manages Moynihan. Moynihan, who started off as an actor and is still active in front of the camera, is also attached to co-star in the shows for ABC Studios and, like he often does, is expected to pen supporting roles for himself in his scripts under the deal. In addition to creating 100 Questions, which was originally scheduled for a midseason run on NBC but was bumped to summer, Moynihan executive produced the multi-camera comedy and had a recurring role on it. He is additionally repped by Rothman Brecher as a writer and by Domain for acting.
Well, I’m excited by this breaking news. Universal is bringing back what it’s calling “the key screenwriter” behind the Bourne franchise to write the treatment for the fourquel, whose working title is the The Bourne Legacy. And he’s also writing what studio insiders are calling the “Bourne Bible”. Tony Gilroy, of course, was the key writer on The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley are back to produce alongside Captivate Entertainment which is the Robert Ludlum estate production company led by Jeffrey Weiner and Ben Smith. (The pic won’t be based on the book The Bourne Legacy written by Eric Lustabader in Ludlum’s series.) Bourne 4 will have a 2012 release. No word yet on whether Matt Damon or Paul Greengrass will be back. (Matt has said he won’t do Bourne 4 unless Paul does. And Paul has said he’s not.) But I bet Gilroy’s involvement might lure at least Damon, who’d be an idiot not to continue the best role of his life — not to mention the best payday.
Kwame Kwei-Armah, the BAFTA-nominated TV scriptwriter, has turned to the big screen. Kwei-Armah is writing Black Flash, a biopic of 70s soccer star Laurie Cunningham for production company Fulwell 73. Cunningham was the first black player to represent England at any level. He also dated a white girl, very publicly, much to the disgust of the average 70s football hooligan. Cunningham was the first English player to sign for Spanish soccer superstars Real Madrid, let alone the first black player. He died in a suspect car accident, aged 33, after getting involved with the seamy side of the Costa Del Sol.
This is not the first time Kwei-Armah has written a biopic of a black soccer player. He has already written one BBC TV drama about black footballer Walter Tull, who played for Tottenham Hotspur before the First World War. Kwei-Armah was the first black Briton to have a play stated in the West End, when his award-winning Elmina’s Kitchen transferred to the Garrick Theatre in 2005. Sean Gascoigne represents him at United Agents.
Fulwell 73, meanwhile, is in post on its feature documentary The Ballad of a Green Beret. The docu follows Lt Col Bo Gritz, the most highly-decorated Green Beret during the Vietnam War, who later organised rescue raids on kidnapped American POWs, before becoming a controversial conspiracy theorist. Producer Leo Pearlman tells me that Gritz served as the model for both Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo and Marlon Brando’s paranoid … Read More »