BEYOND WORDS 2018 – Insights From Writers Guild Award-Nominated Writers

Photo by Michael Jones

by Kelly Jo Brick

The Writers Guild Foundation, The Writers Guild of America, West and Variety brought together several of this year’s Writers Guild Award-nominated writers for a panel discussion to reflect and share insights about creating their films.

Moderator Graham Moore (THE IMITATION GAME) led writers Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor (THE SHAPE OF WATER), Greta Gerwig (LADY BIRD), Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani (THE BIG SICK), James Mangold and Michael Green (LOGAN), Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber (THE DISASTER ARTIST), Jordan Peele (GET OUT), Steven Rogers (I, TONYA), Aaron Sorkin (MOLLY’S GAME) and Virgil Williams (MUDBOUND) as they talked about how they decide what story to tell, the relationship between the words on the page and what’s seen on the screen, the craft of writing from treatments to inspiration and dealing with notes.


Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 4/29/13

Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are

  • Steven Thompson (SHERLOCK, DOCTOR WHO) & Guillermo del Toro (PAN’S LABYRINTH) are writing a pilot based on Naoki Urasawa’s manga, MONSTER,  for HBO. (Yeah, it’s a great idea, made even greater in the eyes of HBO because they’re such star sucks and del Toro’s got the kind of rep they love tightening their lips around.)
  • Various web and Old Media sources say that undisclosed writers from the series MAD MEN are pitching like mad to get the go-ahead on a fictional series based on NASA during the ’60s, (Which is very appealing for several rasons, not the least of which is the rumor that astronauts in those days were wild, crazy, colorful doods who’d make perfect television characters.)
  • Blake Masters (BROTHERHOOD) is writing the pilot for LINE OF SIGHT, a drama about a National Transportation Safety Board investigator who survives a mysterious plane crash, for AMC. (Which sounds pretty damn close to UNBREAKABLE. Not that we’re making any accusations or anything…)
  • Also pitching away are producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who are shopping a follow-up to their THE BIBLE mini-series called A.D. (Burnett says he already has scripts for it, but – again – our trusty news sources ain’t talking about who the writers were/are/will be.)

Today’s TV Writing Deals Dept: 10/9/12

“Show me the writer who hasn’t sold out and I’ll show you the writer who hasn’t been asked yet.” Norman Mailer to Larry Brody, 1976

  • Marc Hyman (MEET THE FOCKERS) is writing a comedy pilot called TAMING OF THE SHREW for NBC, about a tyrannical woman CEO “and the office staff who try to tame her.” (Produced by Julia Roberts so, gee, think it’ll make the next schedule?)
  • Samuel Baum (LIE TO ME) has signed a development deal with CBS TV Studios and sold an untitled drama about a doctor who battles politics and business “to keep Americans healthy” to CBS. (In the ’70s LB was one of the story editors of a highly awarded series called MEDICAL STORY that did that same thing…and was cancelled after 13 episodes, so all we can say to Sam Baum is, “Look out!”)
  • Guillermo del Toro (a bunch of great feature film stuff as writer-director-producer) wants us all to know that his planned HULK TV series for ABC is still writerless. (In other words, the job is open, boys and girls. Get out there and hustle!)
  • Jay Scherick & David Ronn (SMURFS) have sold CBS a sitcom pilot about two very different brothers and their families having to share a house.  (We’re thinking MODERN FAMILY without the “modern,” and with a bunch of green-skinned little geeks, but who really knows?
  • Elizabeth Wright Shapiro (actress-writer with some kind of connections we know nothing about) is writing a sitcom about an Ivy League feminist who ends up living with two typical L.A. babes for CBS. (This one’s going to be produced by Elizabeth Banks, one of the co-stars of 30 ROCK, and her husband, in case you’re wondering how the deal came to be. Wonder if either of the two Elizabeths, or the husband, knows Guillermo del Toro…)

More Deals!!!

Cuz no writer ever gets tired of writing meetings money! Wait, if you’re doing it for the money there are better businesses with better incomes. Like plumbing contracting, or banking. So it’s not the money either? Hmm. Must be…love!?

  • Paul Redford (THE WEST WING, DIRTY SEXY MONEY) is rewriting HAMLET, by an old guy named Shakespeare (KING LEAR et al) with a family/political drama called AMERICA’S SON for Fox Network. (Yeah, that’s gonna work as well as that show based on King David’s problems awhile ago. You know, where they rewrote, um, an even older dood named God (THE BIBLE)?)
  • Ben Falcone (HAPPY ENDINGS, UP ALL NIGHT, husband of MIKE & MOLLY star Melissa McCarthy, who is producing this project) and Larry Dorf (THE LOONEY TUNES SHOW) are writing a comedy for CBS about a group of friends who find their lives changed by death at an earlier age than they expected. (Nowthat’s funny, right?)
  • Guillermo del Toro’s best selling vampire book trilogy, The Strain, is being turned into a series for FX, directed by del Toro and co-written by him and his co-writer of the books, Chuck Hogan (PRINCE OF THIEVES). (Well, we need more vampire shows, don’t we? Why so negative? Sheesh!
  • Peter Berg (HANCOCK, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS) will write and direct a spy pilot, M.I.C.E, for NBC. (We can’t think of a single negative thing to say about Berg except that as an actor he looks kinda snarky. Damn.)
  • David Shore (HOUSE) is writing an untitled legal drama for Fox, featuring an ex-cop lawyer with personal demons who’s trying to get back with his ex-wife. (Hmm, Shore loves that House-Cuddy stalker dynamic, doesn’t he?)
  • Guillermo del Toro (see above) is adapting another book, NUTSHELL STUDIES by Corinne May Botz, for an HBO series, this time co-writing with novelist Sara Gran (SOUTHLAND). (Well, he needs another writer to, you know, actually type in the words, right?)

So the secret to getting into TV is to write a book Guillermo del Toro likes, huh? ‘Scuse us while we throw ourselves into Chapter 1…