Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Expendables’ Launches Nasty Writers Battle

Wait’ll you see what Sly did. Naughty, naughty, dude.

But then , whaddaya expect from a teeny little guy like him who’s made his whole career about looking BIG?

expendablesby Eriq Gardner

SylvesterStallone experienced a Rocky Balboa-style comeback with The Expendables, his 2010 film about a team of mercenaries hired to eliminate a Latin American dictator. But even as the film grossed $274.5 million worldwide and spawned a sequel (with another on the way this summer), Stallone has been taking punches from writers who claim their work was stolen.

In an unusually contentious example of how murky authorship can be in Hollywood, Stallone, who is credited as the co-writer of Expendables, has gone to battle against one writer in arbitration and another in federal court. He’s been flagged by a judge for making two conflicting arguments. And lately, the situation has become so heated that an appeals court intervened and a new lawsuit was filed that threatens to undercut the traditional screenwriter credit process.

The story dates back to 2002, when writer DavidCallaham signed a two-picture agreement with Warner Bros. The first script was for a movie based on the video gameDoom, which Universal ended up releasing in 2005. The second was Barrow, which Callaham wrote after reading about the U.S. government’s hiring of Blackwater military contractors in Iraq. That script went unproduced until 2008, when Stallone — who had become interested in exploring the “mercenary theme,” according to court documents — was sent Barrow by his William Morris agent.

Soon after, Stallone got to work on Expendables, which triggered a claim by Callaham thatBarrow was being used without permission. A WGA arbitration commenced, and in 2009, Callaham prevailed and was given “co-writer” and “story by” credits and $102,250 in bonus payments.

This is just warming up. Read it all.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This just in today – February 3rd – from the Hollywood Reporter:

Sylvester Stallone and producers of the The Expendables have prevailed over a writer who claimed to have authored work that provided the basis for the 2010 film blockbuster.

On Monday, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of Marcus Webb‘s copyright lawsuit alleging Expendables came from his script titled The Cordoba Caper.

Back to you, Marcus.

Peggy Bechko: The Villain Of The Piece

by Peggy Bechko

Let’s talk about villains. Seriously. There are a variety of villains, some of which you want nothing to do with in your writing. Others can be fixed and still others are right on!

So what do I mean there are different kinds of villains? Well there are lots, actually, but I’ll just discuss a couple of them here.

There’s the Self-Absorbed and too Careless to live villain. This can lend a lot of comedy to your story if that’s the direction you want to take since this kind of villain is above hard work and dealing with complicated decisions. He might be a pretty boy or a mob boss type, but the most important thing in life is his own comforts and the way others fear and/or look up to him. He pretty much delegates everything to underlings and expects his every desire to be served up to him like he’s a king.

Hey, I actually know people like that, don’t you? He could pass for a cartoon, in fact he has. Think about Gru in the animated Despicable Me. But, hey, at least Gru has some substance, we learn his mother was responsible for his villainous personality and he loves three little girls. Oh, and he has minions.

So by that measure, Gru actually has more substance than some of the villains in books and on screen who fill the self-absorbed bill. If your villain is no more than a shallow puppet, predictable and unappealing, a spoiled brat by any measure then you need to retrace your steps, go back and give your villain some substance – like Gru! He was held back, yet driven by his mother. The Little girls fill a hole in his life and he goes through quite the transformation/evolution. Give your villain some substance too.

Another one of my favorites is the “ugly” villain as if because he limps, smells bad, has black and missing teeth, sports great pustules on his face, scars and a massively broken nose, then he’s plainly ‘evil’.

Oh, come on, really!?

The writer either on printed page or aimed at the screen shows us this villain who’s plagued with all kinds of physical afflictions and he’s taken to be the evil one before he hugs his puppy and goes off to slaughter a family in their sleep. It’s like the writer has tattooed across his forehead “Villain” and the audience or reader is now set up to just watch and see what evil this guy comes up with.

That’s not to say your villain can’t have some outward scars. But you, as the writer, can’t depend on those to convey the message of nastiness. Tolkien may have gotten away with it with Orcs, but YOU still have to create that character, give him substance and let him strut his stuff through actions he takes.

Do some web surfing on psychology if you need to. Dig down and give your villain some behaviors, thoughts and deeds that show up his dark personality. Let us see how warped his is on the inside, what motivates him, what kind of thoughts sift through his disturbed brain and their origins. We know his morals are out of whack, let us see that, and why. Then maybe you’ll give us a Godfather or Wolf Of Wall Street.

There are certainly many more villainous types out there, but we’ll tackle them another day. The message here is you must create real, breathing, living ‘evil’ ones for your audience to hate and maybe empathize with on the terrible things that have brought him to this state in his life, not a cardboard cut-out.

Now go out there and create a real villain with substance.

Extreme Peer Production


One of our favorite peer productions is INSPECTOR SPACETIME NOT INSPECTOR SPACETIME UNTITLED WEBSERIES ABOUT A SPACE TRAVELER whatever, Travis Richey’s terrific web series which began its life as a a show-within-a-show on COMMUNITY.

Turns out we at TVWriter™ aren’t the only ones who’ve fallen in love with the charm and execution of this diamond. Turns out Trav’s got fans all over the place.  Lovers of “Inspectrum” are all over the place, from Tumblr to, well, to the Inspector SpaceTime Wiki. For a good time, check out these droll, deadpan masterpieces.





WGA-AMPTP Contract Negotions Begin Today

Speaking of the Writers Guild:

This is heavy stuff. These talks will decide what the financial terms of the next Writers Guild of America – Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers deal will be.

And, as usual, the producers’ opening salvo is all about, well, let’s be clear here, it’s all about how much they’re dying to fuck us in the ass:

2014 WGA contract talks oening

2014 WGA Awards Winners (Hot News from Last Saturday Night)

Hmm, old writers may not get a lot of work, but they still run the Guild.
Hmm, old writers may not get a lot of work, but they still run the Guild.

Here they are, last night’s Writers Guild of America Award winners. (And, no, we’re not reviewing the ceremonies other than bow our heads in sorrow for emcee Brad Garrett and his Dead on Arrival Woody Allen pedophile routine.)

You may know some of these folks. Or you may not. Clap anyway cuz what the hell. We writers don’t get our names out there nearly often enough.


“Hogcock!” (30 Rock), Written by Jack Burditt & Robert Carlock

“Confessions” (Breaking Bad), Written by Gennifer Hutchison

“A Test Before Trying” (The Simpsons), Written by Joel H. Cohen

“influANTces” (A.N.T. Farm), Written by Vincent Brown

Blake Shelton’s Not So Family Christmas, Head Writers: Jay Martel, Ian Roberts; Writers: Alex Rubens, Charlie Sanders

House Of Cards, Written by Kate Barnow, Rick Cleveland, Sam Forman, Gina Gionfriddo, Keith Huff, Sarah Treem, Beau Willimon

Breaking Bad, Written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett

Veep, Written by Simon Blackwell, Roger Drew, Sean Gray, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Georgia Pritchett, David Quantick, Tony Roche, Will Smith


Captain Phillips, Screenplay by Billy Ray; Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, And Dangerous Days At Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty

Her, Written by Spike Jonze

There were also various honorary awards (that we’ve already reported on here), news awards, documentaries, etc., but our attention wandered. Let’s face it: TVWriter™ is all about creating fiction, gang. Huzzah for all the above hugely talented fictioneers!