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.

August 12 – Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on August 12th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE.

LOGLINE: An agoraphobic architect and mother goes missing prior to a family trip to Antarctica.

ABOUT THE WRITERS:

The film is based on the bestselling 2012 young adult novel of the same name by MARIA SEMPLE. Bernadette is the author’s second novel, followed by Today Will Be Different, which Semple has adapted for an upcoming HBO series set to star Julia Roberts. Semple’s other TV writing credits include Beverly Hills, 90210, for which she received an Emmy nomination, Mad About You, Suddenly Susan, Ellen, Saturday Night Live, and Arrested Development, for which she received a WGA award nomination. Her father was screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. (Batman, Three Days of the Condor).

The screenplay for Where’d You Go, Bernadette was written by SCOTT NEUSTADTER & MICHAEL H. WEBER. After the success of their breakthrough original screenplay (500) Days of Summer, the duo became the go-to writing team for YA adaptations with The Spectacular Now, The Fault in Our Stars, and Paper Towns. The team received their first Academy Award nomination in 2017 for their screenplay The Disaster Artist, about the making of “the greatest bad movie ever made,” The Room.

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, August 8)

We will be discussing the July 2013 draft by Neustadter & Weber. The script was later rewritten by Holly Gent & Vince Palmo Jr. along with the film’s director, RICHARD LINKLATER. With five Oscar nominations, indie superstar director Linklater is best known for Slackers, Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Boyhood, and the Before… trilogy. Separately, Gent and Palmo have numerous credits in a variety of crew positions, many of them on films by Richard Linklater. Their other writing credits are on 2008’s Me and Orson Welles, starring Zac Efron, and an upcoming untitled John Brinkley biopic starring Robert Downey Jr., both also directed by Linklater.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette stars two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator), Judy Greer (The Descendants, Arrested Development), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, The Martian), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Man of Steel), Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars), and Billy Crudup (Big Fish, Almost Famous). The film is scheduled to be released nationwide by Annapurna Pictures and United Artists Releasing on August 16, the Friday after our meeting.

BEWARE: Trailer may contain spoilers.

Optional Exercise for Advanced Members: Read the novel first. Think about how you would adapt it for the screen. What would keep? What you drop? What would you change? Then read the script to compare your choices with the ones Neustadter & Weber made. Be prepared to discuss your findings at the meeting! And don’t forget to check out the finished film when it opens on August 16 to see what changes Linklater, Gent, and Palmo incorporated.

Rated PG-13. 130 minutes. 138 pages (2nd Draft, July 2013). Comedy.

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.

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.

March 11 – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Meet on the lot at Fox Studios on March 11th for an in-depth analysis and discussion of the screenplay CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

The true story of a bitter, washed-up biographer who falls into a life of crime forging letters from dead literary celebrities to pay the rent.

Nominated for 3 Academy Awards including Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay!

Can You Ever Forgive Me? stars Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) and Richard E. Grant (Game of ThronesStar Wars: Episode IX), both nominated for Golden Globes, BAFTA, and SAG awards in addition to their Oscar nods. (Update: Richard E. Grant won the Independent Spirit Award!)

The screenplay, by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, based on the book by Lee Israel, has been nominated for dozens of industry awards, including the WGA, USC Scripter, BAFTA, Independent Spirit Award, and, of course, the Academy Award.

UPDATE: On February 17th, Can You Ever Forgive Me? won the Writers Guild of America award for Best Adapted Screenplay. On February 23rd, Can You Ever Forgive Me? won the Independent Spirit Award for Best 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, March 7)

DEVELOPMENT: After interviewing Katharine Hepburn for Esquire in 1967, LEE ISRAEL published full-length biographies on Tallulah Bankhead, Dorothy Kilgallen, and Estée Lauder. Unable to sell her publishers on a Fanny Brice biography, she began forging letters from the likes of Noël Coward and Dorothy Parker to sell to unsuspecting collectors, which she wrote about in her 2008 memoir, Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger. (Israel passed away in 2014.)

In 2011, producer Bob Balaban hired Tony Award winning playwright JEFF WHITTY (Avenue Q) to adapt Israel’s memoir after reading his play The Hiding Place, which had characters with voices similar to Israel’s. Whitty wrote four drafts of the screenplay before filmmaker NICOLE HOLOFCENER (Enough Said) was attached to direct. Holofcener cast Julianne Moore in the lead and rewrote the script as a two-hander with greater emphasis on the relationship between Israel and her partner in crime, con man Jack Hock.

Six days before production was to start, Moore dropped out due to creative differences with Holofcener. Rather than start over again later with a new star, Holofcener handed the reins to her Sundance lab protege, Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), wishing her luck and recommending McCarthy for the vacated lead.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? premiered last September at the Telluride Film Festival, followed by a showing at the Toronto International Film Festival later that month. Fox Searchlight released the $10 million picture on October 19, 2018, and it is currently still in theaters. So far it has received 39 awards and 70 nominations including WGA, SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globes, and Film Independent Spirit Awards, and has a 98% Fresh score from 255 critics as compiled by Rotten Tomatoes. If you have not yet seen the movie but plan to before our meeting, reading the script before watching the film is advised.

Rated R. 107 minutes. 133 pages (final shooting script, March 13, 2017). Drama, Crime, Biography.

DMA will provide in-depth analysis and lead 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.