September 9 – Ad Astra

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on September 9th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay AD ASTRA.

LOGLINE: An astronaut goes into space in search of his lost father, whose experiments threaten the solar system.

Ad Astra (Latin for “To the Stars”) was directed and co-written by JAMES GRAY, whose first film, at age 25, 1994’s Little Odessa, won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival. His next four films, including The Yards and We Own The Night (both starring Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix), and The Immigrant (starring Marion Cotillard), all played in competition for the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, while his most recent release, 2017’s The Lost City of Z, starring Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson, was nominated for the prestigious USC Scripter award. Gray co-wrote Ad Astra with ETHAN GROSS, best known for his work as writer and executive story editor on 22 episodes of the FOX sci-fi series Fringe.

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance as well as sandwiches, snacks, and beverages at the meeting. Click the Register Now button for instructions.

(registration deadline: Thursday, September 5)

Compare the script to the finished film when it opens wide on September 20, a week and a half after our discussion! The film, which Gray describes as a mash-up of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apocalypse Now, stars Brad Pitt (Fight Club, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive, Men in Black), Ruth Negga (Loving, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Liv Tyler (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), and Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games franchise).

Rated PG-13. 124 minutes. 108 pages. Sci-Fi, Drama Adventure.

BARNEY MILES LICHTENSTEIN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Barney has worked as a professional story analyst for such companies as Amblin, Imagine, and New Line Cinema. He also assists in training new analysts for the Sundance Institute and is the recipient of the UCLA Extension Outstanding Instructor Award in Screenwriting.

July 8 – Stuber

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on July 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay STUBER.

LOGLINE: Unable to drive after a botched LASIK surgery, a tough cop must rely on his mild-mannered Uber driver to help him nab a dangerous criminal.

ABOUT THE WRITER: The buddy cop action comedy was written by TRIPPER CLANCY, whose first breaks came after winning the Script Pipeline screenplay competition in 2009 with his comedy, Henry the Second. From there, he participated in the Fox Writers Studio in 2011 and signed with manager Jake Wagner. After several of his subsequent spec scripts sold but never got made, Wagner pitched him the title Stuber, thinking it could become a comedy version of Collateral, and Clancy wrote a three-page treatment the next day. A few months later, he had a draft that sold to 20th Century Fox. Stuber marks the scribe’s English-language feature debut, his other produced feature writing credits being the German action comedies Four Against the Bank (directed by Wolfgang Petersen) and 2018’s Hot Dog.

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance as well as sandwiches, snacks, and beverages at the meeting. Click the Register Now button for instructions.

(registration deadline: Wednesday, July 3)

Stuber stars Academy Award nominated screenwriter Kumail Nanjani (The Big Sick) as Stu, the Uber driver, and former WWE star Dave Bautista (Spectre, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Vic, the cop. Iko Uwais (The Raid), Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation), Betty Gilpin (A Dog’s Journey), and Oscar winner Mira Sorvino (Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion) also star. The film, which premiered at SXSW earlier this year, opens July 12, the Friday after our discussion, just in time to go see it and compare the finished film to what was on the page!

Rated R. 105 minutes. 109 pages (3/27/16 draft). Action Comedy, Buddy Comedy.

BRUCE LOGAN, A.S.C., writer-director-cinematographer-visual effects producer (2001: A Space Odyssey, TRON, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Airplane!, Batman Forever) will lead our script analysis and screenwriting discussion. Lost Fare, Bruce’s debut as a feature writer-director, is about an 11 year old disabled girl, routinely pimped out by her prostitute mother, who is saved by a suicidal cab driver. Together they go on a journey of redemption that forever changes their lives. Learn more about Bruce’s work in film and music videos for such artists as Madonna, Prince, and Aerosmith at bruceloganfilm.com.

June 10 – Late Night

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on June 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay LATE NIGHT.

A late-night talk show host on the verge of losing her show hires a female writer to help revitalize the long-running program.

The screenplay was written by MINDY KALING, who also produced the film and stars as its fictional talk show’s new writer. Fittingly, Kaling began her showbiz career as a college intern on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. After college, she began doing her own stand up comedy and played Ben Affleck in an off-Broadway show she co-wrote called Matt & Ben. Her work as a writer/performer on the hit sitcom The Office earned Kaling and her colleagues a WGA award, six more WGA nominations, and six prime time Emmy nominations. She followed that up with her own series, The Mindy Project, which earned her an additional WGA nomination. Mindy also co-wrote and executive produced the upcoming Hulu miniseries Four Weddings and a Funeral, based on the 1994 movie.

Late Night also stars Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Men In Black: International) and John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun, The Crown), with a supporting cast that includes Hugh Dancy (Hannibal), Reid Scott (Veep), and Amy Ryan (Birdman, Gone Baby Gone).

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance as well as sandwiches, snacks, and beverages at the meeting. Click the Register Now button for instructions.

(registration deadline: Thursday, June 6)

Late Night premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 29, 2019. Shortly thereafter, Amazon Studios acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film for $13 million, the largest sum paid for U.S.-only distribution at the festival.

The film is scheduled to open wide on June 7, three days before our meeting. We recommend reading the script before then to focus on what’s on the page, then go see the movie before the meeting so we can discuss how the script changed.

Rated R. 102 minutes. 132 pages. Comedy.

BILL TAUB will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. Screenwriter, producer, author, creative troubleshooter, and teacher Bill Taub has written or co-written the pilots for Relic Hunter, Friday the 13th: The Series, Mission Genesis, The Oddyssey, and Dark Shadows (1991), as well as two unproduced pilots for NBC, Blue Skies and Burger Palace. He was recently honored by the WGA for his work on Barney Miller and Hill Street Blues, and his spec pilot, Raffle Guy, won first place at Scriptapalooza. Bill has also recently taught Creating a Web Series at UCLA Extension Online. His book, Automatic Pilot: Writing a TV Pilot has never been so easy!, is available at Amazon. For more information, visit billtaub.com. or follow @BillyTaub on Twitter.

May 13 – Booksmart

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on May 13th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay BOOKSMART.

On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars decide they should have worked less and played more, so the best friends try to cram four years of fun into one night.

Booksmart had its world premiere March 10 at SXSW and currently holds a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating with 32 reviews! The Hollywood Reporter calls it “a hilarious, blazingly paced teen comedy” and IndieWire says it “excels at celebrating a friendship strong enough to guarantee that the party never really ends until the credits roll.”

The original draft of Booksmart by EMILY HALPERN & SARAH HASKINS landed on the Black List (the industry’s ranking of the best unproduced screenplays) in 2009.  Halpern’s first writing job was on the one-hour drama series The Unit in 2007. She switched to comedy when she teamed up with Haskins, whose earliest writing credit was on InfoMania, a weekly news satire on Current TV. Together they co-created the 2013 ABC sitcom Trophy Wife starring Malin Akerman and Bradley Whitford.

Sarah Haskins, Emily Halpern

Before going into production, Booksmart was rewritten by the team of SUSANNA FOGEL & KATIE SILBERMAN. Fogel previously co-wrote and helmed last year’s action spy comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me starring Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, while Silberman was a co-writer on this year’s hit rom-com Isn’t It Romantic starring Rebel Wilson.

We will be discussing the 2009 Black List draft by Halpern & Haskins, making this a great opportunity to analyze a script as it looked when Hollywood first discovered it, discuss what changes it might need to shape it into the critically-acclaimed festival hit it’s already become, then go see the finished movie in theaters when it’s released on May 24 to see how the development process improved it.

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance as well as sandwiches, snacks, and beverages at the meeting. Click the Register Now button for instructions.

(registration deadline: Thursday, May 9)

The coming-of-age comedy stars Kaitlyn Dever (Last Man Standing, Short Term 12) and Beanie Feldstien (Lady Bird), with Lisa Kudrow (Friends), SNL’s Jason Sudekis and Will Forte, Noah Galvin (The Real O’Neals), Billie Lourd (Scream Queens), Skyler Gisondo (Santa Clarita Diet), and Jessica Williams (The Daily Show), and marks the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde (House, Life Itself). From executive producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay for Gloria Sanchez Productions and producer Megan Ellison for Annapurna Pictures, distributed by United Artists.

WARNING: The following red-band trailer is NSFW.

Not Yet Rated. 105 minutes. 121pages. Comedy, Coming-of-Age.

Wendell WellmanWENDELL WELLMAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. A teacher, screenwriter, actor, playwright, and author of A Writer’s Roadmap, Wendell has taught screenwriting at UCLA and has been a frequent guest moderator at StoryBoardDG.com’s Screenplay Development Group. As an actor, Wendell studied under Lee Strasberg and Peggy Feury at the Strasberg Institute and has appeared in episodic television, theater, and motion pictures, including prominent roles in the films The Klansman starring Lee Marvin and Richard Burton, Sudden Impact, Sommersby, and Street of Dreams. As a writer, he teamed up with Alex Lasker to adapt the novel Firefox for director Clint Eastwood. He also did additional work for Eastwood on the screenplay for Sudden Impact and wrote a final Dirty Harry project. Wendell also worked with the West End Theatre Group as co-founder and artistic director while continuing to alternate between acting and writing assignments. He is currently writing original feature scripts as well as a screenplay adaptation of The River Journey by acclaimed novelist Robert Nathan.

April 8 – Long Shot

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on April 8th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay LONG SHOT.

When an unemployed, self-destructive journalist is hired as a speechwriter for his former babysitter and childhood crush, who’s now Secretary of State and running for President, sparks fly unexpectedly between the mismatched pair.

Long Shot is the first wide theatrically-released feature film credit for screenwriter DAN STERLING, whose first produced feature film, 2014’s The Interview, saw its wide release canceled at the last minute amid fears of an international crisis when North Korea threatened to retaliate against theaters showing the black comedy, leading the writer to tell Creative Screenwriting, “I couldn’t believe [Kim Jong-un,] the most infamous man in the world, knew about my script.” The First Amendment persevered and the film premiered on multiple streaming services a day before receiving a limited theatrical run. Prior to The Interview, Sterling wrote for such TV shows as The Office, Girls, and The Daily Show.

Sterling’s draft of Long Shot was rewritten by LIZ HANNAH, best known for her spec screenplay, The Post, which landed on the 2016 Black List and quickly went into production with Steven Spielberg at the helm and Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the lead roles. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Hannah was nominated for a Golden Globe for her screenplay.

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance as well as sandwiches, snacks, and beverages at the meeting. Click the Register Now button for instructions.

(registration deadline: Thursday, April 4)

(Note: We will be discussing the Dan Sterling draft of Long Shot, which was originally titled Flarsky.)

Long Shot stars Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Steve Jobs) and Academy Award winner Charlize Theron (Monster, Tully), along with an all-star cast including O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton), Andy Serkis (Black Panther, Lord of the Rings trilogy), Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood), and Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul). The film, which was directed by Jonathan Levine (Snatched, 50/50) and premiered on March 9, 2019, at South by Southwest, is currently scheduled for a May 3rd release from Lionsgate.

Not Yet Rated. 120 minutes. 118 pages. Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Politics.

STEVE KAPLAN will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. The industry’s most sought-after expert on comedy, Steve has taught at UCLA, NYU, Yale, and other top universities, and created the HBO Workspace and the HBO New Writers Program. As co-founder and Artistic Director of Manhattan Punch Line Theatre he developed writers such as Peter Tolan (Analyze This), David Crane (Friends), Tracy Poust (Ugly Betty), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), and Mark O’Donnel (Hairspray). Steve teaches a number of different workshops all over the globe, including The Comedy Intensive, a 2-day workshop that covers the fundamental principles of comedy. Look for his books The Hidden Tools of Comedy and The Comic Hero’s Journey, learn more about Steve and his workshops at kaplancomedy.com, and follow him on Twitter at @skcomedy where you can tweet quick comedy questions at him with the #AskKaplan hashtag.

February 11 – GREEN BOOK

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on February 11th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay GREEN BOOK.

Winner of THREE Golden Globe awards, including BEST SCREENPLAY and BEST PICTURE (Musical or Comedy)!

A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

Based on the true story of future Sopranos actor Tony Lip and jazz musician Don Shirley, the screenplay for Green Book was penned by Lip’s son, NICK VALLELONGA, along with BRIAN CURRIE and the film’s director, PETER FARRELLY.

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script sent to you in advance as well as sandwiches, snacks, and beverages at the meeting. Click the Register Now button for instructions.

(registration deadline: Thursday, February 7)

Green Book stars two-time Academy Award nominee Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises, Captain Fantastic) as Tony Lip and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) as Dr. Shirley. Last week Ali won a Golden Globe for his work in Green Book.

Among the film’s other 33 awards and 78 nominations (so far) are the Writers Guild of America’s nomination for Original Screenplay, four BAFTA nominations including Best Screenplay (Original), two SAG nominations, seven Critics Choice nominations including Best Original Screenplay, DGA and PGA nominations for Best Film, a Screenwriter of the Year award from the Hollywood Film Awards, and a tie (with Vice) for Best Screenplay from the Detroit Film Critics Society.

UPDATE: Nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Mortensen), Best Supporting Actor (Ali), and Best Original Screenplay!

About the writers: Vallelonga had appeared, with his father, in such films as The Godfather, The Pope of Greenwich Village, and GoodFellas before getting his first feature writing credit on 1993’s Deadfall, which he co-wrote with Christopher Coppola (Nicolas Cage’s brother). He followed that with four more films that he wrote and directed while keeping his father’s story close to his vest. When he finally shared the idea with Currie, a friend he’d worked with in a nightclub years earlier, Currie convinced Vallelonga to let him produce and co-write the script. Currie then pitched the idea to Farrelly, having previously played bit parts in several of the director’s comedies. Farrelly is known for writing and directing (usually with his brother Bobby) a string of hits including Dumb & Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, and Shallow Hal.

Green Book premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival where it won the audience award for best film. It opened in limited release in the US on November 16, before going wide one week later. As of this writing, it is still playing on over 500 screens and is #10 at the North American box office. If you have not yet seen the movie but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Released by Universal Pictures.

Rated PG-13. 130 minutes. 115 pages. Comedy, Biography.

Beverly GrayBEVERLY GRAY will provide in-depth analysis and lead our discussion. As story editor and development executive for Roger Corman’s Concorde-New Horizons Pictures, screenwriter Beverly Gray oversaw the making of 170 low-budget features. More recently, she has covered the entertainment industry for The Hollywood Reporter and currently teaches online screenwriting workshops for UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. Beverly has also written books on filmmakers Corman and Ron Howard, and in 2017 she released Seduced by Mrs. Robinson for the 50th anniversary of The Graduate. Visit her popular Beverly in Movieland blog and follow @Bev_Movieland on Twitter.

December 10 – Ben Is Back

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on December 10th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay BEN IS BACK.

Written and directed by Academy Award nominee PETER HEDGES.

Premise:  Ben Burns, in serious trouble, returns home to his family on Christmas Eve.

19-year-old Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) unexpectedly returns home to his family’s suburban home on Christmas Eve morning. Ben’s mother, Holly (Julia Roberts), is relieved and welcoming but wary of her son staying clean. Over a turbulent 24 hours, new truths are revealed, and a mother’s undying love for her son is tested as she does everything in her power to keep him safe. Ben Is Back also stars Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) and Kathryn Newton (Lady Bird).

Registration in advance is required to attend the discussion, and includes a copy of the script mailed to you in advance as well as sandwiches, snacks, and beverages at the meeting. Click the Register Now button for instructions.

(registration deadline: Thursday, December 6)

Peter Hedges is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, film director, and film producer. He is best known for adapting his novel What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) into a screenplay which became a critically-acclaimed film. In 2002, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for About a Boy. In the same year, he wrote and directed Pieces of April, which was nominated for Best Screenplay at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Production companies included Black Bear Pictures, Color Force, and 30WEST. In July 2018, LD Entertainment, Roadside Attractions, and Lionsgate acquired distribution rights. The film had its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival where it was nominated for their Peoples’ Choice Award. A limited release is set for December 7, 2018.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a Want To See rating of 92%. The site’s critical consensus reads: “Refreshingly understated, Ben Is Back subverts family drama stereotypes – and provides a forum for terrific performances from Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts.”

Rated R. 103 minutes. 115 pages (draft dated 8/3/17). Drama.

A special guest moderator will provide in-depth script analysis and lead our discussion.

UPDATE: DMA provided in-depth analysis and led our discussion. A veteran entertainment industry showrunner, executive and consultant, DMA (Donna Michelle Anderson) guides traditional and digital networks through branding, launching and scaling their content and companies. Over the past 20 years, she has helmed top-rated programming for CBS, Bravo, BET, A&E, TLC and more, created groundbreaking, patented production software, and championed diversity throughout the industry, including founding the Hollywood Diversity Network. She is a graduate, with distinction, of Stanford University and is an active member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Producers Guild of America and American Mensa.