Different Perspectives on the Passing of Writer Alvin Sargent

Writer Alvin Sargent

Which headline below do you suppose more captures the essence of the late Alvin Sargent, who died last week?

Yes, we think it’s worth thinking about even if you have no idea who he was and are wondering why the hell TVWriter™ isn’t telling you:

Alvin Sargent Dies: ‘Ordinary People’ & ‘Julia’ Oscar Winner Who Also Penned Three ‘Spider-Man’ Films Was 92


And now, here’s who Mr. Sargent was, from another source, Robert D. McFadden in the NY Times:

Alvin Sargent, the veteran Hollywood screenwriter who won an Oscar for his gripping portrayal of breakdowns lurking under the surface of an affluent but guilt-ridden family in Robert Redford’s 1980 film “Ordinary People,” died on Thursday in Seattle. He was 92.

The death was confirmed by his daughter Amanda Sargent.

Mr. Sargent also won an Academy Award for his script for “Julia,” Fred Zinnemann’s 1977 film, with Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave, based on a chapter in Lillian Hellman’s memoir “Pentimento,” about her friendship with a woman who died fighting the Nazis in the years leading up to World War II.

One of Hollywood’s most versatile writers, Mr. Sargent, who adapted screenplays from books and stories, wrote or collaborated on scores of television and film scripts over six decades: comedies, dramas, westerns, romances, even Spider-Man adventures. He also wrote the original screenplay for Alan J. Pakula’s 1973 bittersweet comedy “Love and Pain and the Whole Damned Thing.”

But he was best known for “Ordinary People,” his treatment of Judith Guest’s 1976 novel about a family whose idolized older son has drowned in a boating accident. Tormented by survivor’s guilt, his brother (Timothy Hutton) attempts suicide. The mother (Mary Tyler Moore), in denial, clings to an illusion that everything is fine, as the passive father (Donald Sutherland) and a psychiatrist (Judd Hirsch) try to mediate the mess.

“Ordinary People” won three other 1981 Oscars: for best picture, best direction by Mr. Redford and best supporting actor for Mr. Hutton. Ms. Moore was nominated for best actress and Mr. Hirsch for best supporting actor. The picture also won six Golden Globe Awards and critical acclaim….

It isn’t until the 16th paragraph of McFadden’s well-researched profile of Mr. Sargent that Spider-Man finally appears.

Contemporary priorities, gotta love ’em, yeah?