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Hollywood vs. The Author
- Narrated by: P. J. Ochlan, Simon Mattacks, Stephen Jay Schwartz, Alan Jacobson, Tess Gerritsen, Lee Goldberg, Naomi Hirahara, Joshua Corin, Andrew Kaplan, Lawrence Block, Diana Gould, Rob Roberge, Alexandra Sokoloff, James Brown
- Length: 7 hrs and 9 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Art
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It’s no secret that authors have a love-hate relationship with Hollywood. The oft-repeated cliché that “the book was better than the movie” holds true for more reasons than the average reader will ever know. When asked about selling their book rights to Hollywood authors like to joke that they drive their manuscripts to the border of Arizona and California and toss them over the fence, driving back the way they came at breakneck speed. This is probably because Hollywood just doesn’t “get it.” Its vision for the film or TV series rarely seems to match the vision of the author. And for those rare individuals who’ve had the fortune of sitting across the desk from one of the myriad, interchangeable development execs praising the brilliance of their work while ticking off a never-ending list of notes for the rewrite, the pros of pitching their work to Hollywood rarely outweigh the cons.
Stephen Jay Schwartz has sat on both sides of that desk - first as the Director of Development for film director Wolfgang Petersen, then as a screenwriter and author pitching his work to the film and television industry. He’s seen all sides of what is known in this small community as “Development Hell.” The process is both amusing and heartbreaking. Most authors whose work contains a modicum of commercial potential eventually find themselves in “the room” taking a shot at seeing their creations re-visualized by agents, producers or development executives. What they often discover is that their audience is younger and less worldly as themselves. What passes for “story notes” is often a mishmash of vaguely connected ideas intended to put the producer’s personal stamp on the project.
Hollywood vs. The Author is a collection of non-fiction anecdotes by authors who’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the development room firsthand - some who have successfully managed to straddle the two worlds, seeing their works morph into the kinds of feature films and TV shows that make them proud, and others who stepped blindsided into that room after selling their first or second novels. All the stories in this collection illustrate the great divide between the world of literature and the big or small screen. They underscore the insanity of every crazy thing you’ve ever heard about Hollywood. For insiders and outsiders alike, Hollywood vs. The Author delivers the goods.
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- David E. Allen
Loved hearing the writers speak for themselves. The ones who didn’t, it was still great! The historical part was also interesting.
Congrats to Mr. Schwartz for doing a great job of helping us understand more of the inner workings. As a film producer of 8 features, I get so frustrated at execs putting their own spin on authors’ stories. If they wish to do that, then WHY did they purchase the story in the first place? I really feel for those writers who lose control of their work to studios who then just sit on it (usually to make sure no other studio can make it) without making it.
The writer is on a huge pedestal with me, and I try so hard to keep everything as I read it in the original story that hooked me.
Thank you Stephen for working so hard on this project!
2 people found this helpful
- Kevin Potter
Enlightening and a little... Disturbing
I cannot overstate this. Any author or screenwriter with any aspirations of working in Hollywood needs to read this book.
It's not all horror stories of being mistreated or having work stolen, some writers have great experiences. But there is most definitely a dark side to Hollywood and anyone with plans to work in the industry should absolutely go into it with an understanding of the very real risks.
2 people found this helpful
Good for Wannabe Screenwriters
Interesting to read how the movie industry works and how writers are frequently treated in the process. However, unless you are in that industry the book is probably going to be boring after one or two short essays.