Black List Script Has Hollywood Buzzing

The Hilary Clinton story has come to Hollywood. The project entitled “Rodham” is currently in development. My good friend, manager and producer, Richard Arlook is producing under his banner, The Arlook Group, in association with producers, Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, and their Temple Hill Entertainment.

When Richard Arlook told me over the holidays that he was going to be the shepherd behind the movie I was surprised. I wasn’t even aware that the project was on Hollywood’s radar. I’ve been in the film business long enough to know that some of the best projects are carefully concealed, kept under tight wraps as the players jockey for position in securing film rights while hammering out contractual issues regarding the picture. That seems to be the reason why a lot of film projects seemingly emerge from obscurity. They’re suddenly announced in the trades as if they were just packaged and delivered to the media at a moment’s notice.

If you work in the film business you know that this is far from the truth. The reality is that it takes many years to get a project into development, preproduction, and then production. I have learned from my time in the business that it takes several years to produce a feature film. The consensus among industry professionals is that it takes a long time to get a film in the can. The expression ‘film-in-the-can’ means that you have gone through all of the necessary steps; from securing the film rights to the scripted material, known as the intellectual property, to developing the script, to attaching talent, to financing and physical production of the picture.

During the development, preproduction, and sometimes even the production process many things can go wrong setting the filmmakers back, and putting the project very much in jeopardy. For those people living outside of Hollywood’s film industry, who don’t understand the nuts and bolts of the movie business, this reality can be hard to comprehend. I’ve often heard industry outsiders say, “How hard can it be to make a movie? You just get a camera, and start shooting.” I chuckle under my breath when I hear these kinds of remarks. Unfortunately, it’s a business, albeit the film business, so it’s not quite that simple, as I’ve mentioned above in this post.

So, when Richard Arlook told me news of the project was in the trades I spent some time on Google reading about it. I learned that the project was written by a South Korean newcomer named Young Il Kim, whose “Rodham” script was number 4 on Hollywood’s Black List in 2012. The Black List is an annual poll of approximately 300 film executives. Some of the past films that have made the Black List were “The Social Network,” “Juno” and “The King’s Speech”. The premise for Kim’s “Rodham” script involves a fresh faced 20-something Hillary Clinton as she’s trying to decide between her Washington career and boyfriend, Bill Clinton, during the days of the Watergate scandal. Director James Ponsoldt, who directed the Sundance hit, “The Spectacular Now,” will direct the picture. The producers are currently seeking to cast the role of Hilary Clinton before approaching the studios for a deal. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more news regarding the project.

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Back to My Theater Roots

News flash… I’ve gone back to my roots and have written a full length, two-act stage play called “Deep.” Writing the piece, which is a family drama about marital strife, has caused me to become sentimental about my career in the theater. Outside of working on my new play, I’m not sure of the reason for this sentimentality; I just know that I’ve always loved the theater. The love affair began when I saw plays at an early age. Some were local school theater productions which had me on the edge of my seat. Others were full-fledged, big budget shows in large, notable venues, and on Broadway.

When I was a young boy, around eight years old, I would sometimes coerce my parents into assembling in the living room in our house to watch a haphazard skit that I had thrown together with my two brothers. They were terrible, ill-conceived sketches that had no meaning or structure, and rarely told a coherent story. More often than not they dissolved into mere folly, with my brothers and I rolling around like wild animals on the floor. My parents were troopers for enduring those listless productions.

It’s funny how at a young age I had already been bitten by the directing and storytelling bug. At summer camp a few years later, I wrote, produced and directed a skit in a sketch contest. The play was a parody of the camps’ officials, counselors, and campers. I remember the laughter from the audience. Although I’ve never considered myself a comedy writer per se, I guess the skit was funny, and good enough to win first place in the contest. The reward was a pizza and ice cream party in the mess hall. Ah… the simple pleasures in life.

In college I acted in an assortment of theatrical productions; everything from West Side Story to some original works. Subsequently, I spent several years in New York City, where I wrote, directed, produced and acted in a Theatre Row company. Taking residence on famed 42nd Street, I spent most of time, playing in the Nat Horne and Samuel Beckett theaters. I even had the distinct privilege of work shopping some productions in the notable Playwrights Horizons space. I also performed in numerous venues in Manhattan that didn’t even have a name, but were home to some pretty interesting architecture.

As a resident of the LoveCreek Theatre Company I thoroughly enjoyed exploring and creating original works. The theatre company was a strong proponent of fostering and nurturing original work. In a short period of time we would conceive a production, and stage it with very little rehearsal. It was fun watching the shows evolve and grow on the stage performance by performance. And, the best part was being a part of the process every step of the way. I can distinctly remember that building the sets in the theater were like an event. If you didn’t have anything to do you would congregate at the theater to pitch in. It was a good time.

So, while I prepare to introduce my new play, “Deep,” with a staged reading set for Thursday, May 30th at 7:30pm at the Elephant Theatre, I’m guilty of some reflection about my theater roots. I love the process of conceiving an original work, and watching it come to life before your eyes. I began my career in the broadcasting news business, so I know what it means to tell a good story. I guess we’ll see next Thursday if I succeeded with my latest endeavor. The reading is free, so feel free to check it out. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

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