“It starts with the script” is an old chestnut which just happens to be true. I get a kick out of talking to actors, directors and studio heads, but by far my favorite conversations are with such writers as Michael Arndt or Tony Kushner. These people are smart! Years ago after interviewing the Coens for “Raising Arizona,” I abandoned my fledgling efforts at screenwriting. I could never be that good.
One of the new tools in the Oscar campaign arsenal is the internet. Some studios are putting screenplays up online for easy reading access. You can check out at least ten of the competitors for original screenplay. Universal posts “This is 40” by Judd Apatow, among others, while Sony Pictures Classics boasts “Amour” by Michael Haneke and “Smashed” by James Ponsoldt and Susan Burke, Lionsgate/Summit has “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky as well as “Arbitrage,” by Nicholas Jarecki, and Focus Features offers several including “Moonrise Kingdom,” by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola.
Other scripts are being delivered to awards voters as bound paperbacks, including so far: Paramount’s “Flight,” an original by John Gatins, as well as Warner Bros. adapted scripts “Argo,” by Chris Terrio and “The Dark Knight Rises” by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan, and Fox Searchlight’s “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” by Ol Parker, “The Sessions” by Ben Lewin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, and “HItchcock” by John J. McLaughlin.
The one full-size hardcover book is Tony Kushner’s adapted screenplay for “Lincoln,” from Disney/DreamWorks.
“This is 40” is also available for order on Amazon from Newmarket Press, complete with an introduction by “Girls” creator Lena Dunham and Apatow’s answers to “Five Obvious Questions” and an afterword on his writing process. More Oscar season scripts and tie-ins will be coming from Newmarket down the pike.