LAT

Screenwriting column debuts in LAT

Scriptland is billed as a weekly-on-Wednesday addition to Calendar by freelancer Jay A. Fernandez. For the first installment, he reads from James Vanderbilt's 200-page screenplay adaptation of Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, Richard A. Clarke's bestseller. He checks in on whether Martin Scorsese will leave a scene depicting Jack Nicholson's "very original sexual use for cocaine" with two prostitutes in his cut of The Departed. The column opens, though, with a look at the latest work from Charlie Kaufman:

I have the new Charlie Kaufman screenplay on my desk.

I've read it no, lived it. I've been moved and astounded by it. And I'm tortured by the dilemma of what I should or should not say about it here. I feel a bit like Frodo palming the One Ring.

The last two weeks have been a grueling cacophony of real and imagined voices other journalists, producers, publicists, Kaufman, myself trying to convince me either of my righteousness as a journalist or of my complicity in possibly hurting one of the greatest screenwriters in history, a man with a craving for privacy as singular and passionate as his creative vision....

Many people, beginning with Kaufman, do not want me to have the script, do not want me to read the script, and without question do not want me to write anything about the script. Words like "super-sensitive," "invasive" and "freaked" have been cautiously leveled at me as I've reached out to those involved with the project to get their thoughts on it.

[snip]

No one has ever written a screenplay like this. It's questionable whether cinema is even capable of handling the thematic, tonal and narrative weight of a story this ambitious.

Guess he likes it. Nikki Finke, however, says the new column "may be the single worst idea in the history of the Los Angeles Times' Calendar section." Uh, no hyperbole there.


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