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Tony Gilroy: A new breed of pretensions and contradictions, don’t touch his precious screenplays, all others are fair game. Re: New Yorker Article by D.T. Max

March 27th, 2009 · No Comments

Has anyone seen the movie entitled “The Player”? A very good Robert Altman movie that was recently on IFC or was it Sundance, anyway check out the interlude between Burt Reynolds and Charles Champlin, I think they perfectly describe Tony Gilroy, only Gilroy is an updated 2009 version of the particular breed they are referring to.

Usually a person’s bullcrap is spread out in different avenues, it take a special piece of bullcrap to intersect in the same interview, you might call it taking bullcrap to artistic heights:

Gilroy bounces between two ideas of what it is to be a screenwriter: technician and artist. On one level, he is a regular guy, a union man with a job to do, just like the cops and firemen whose kids he grew up with in Washingtonville. “I hate that Paddy Chayefsky idea of a script—that it is cut in granite,” he says. “Someone who directs a movie word for word—they’re an idiot.” And: “The most makeable screenplay idea is to write a hero part for a guy between thirty and fifty”—a pause for effect—“with a gun.” He has long worked as a script doctor, and he speaks of such projects bluntly. He says, “If I come in and, say, you’re going to give me the weekly”—he gets as much as two hundred and fifty thousand dollars—“I’m basically promising you that I’m going to be able to get it done. I have made a temple out of that.”

The above is one gutless way to look at it, simply don’t fight for your screenplay, MikeFrancesa.com prefers to champion Joe Eszterhas’ vision of screenwriting, which is to fight for every word. Incidentally, if you read the Eszterhas book, “The Devil’s Guide to Hollywood”, Paddy Chayefsky is given a hero’s treatment by Eszterhas, quite proper considering that Chayefsky is the only writer in history to have three solo Academy Awards and a writer that never compromised.

Back to Gilroy, he goes on about how screenplays are not cut in granite, he loves to brag about quarter million dollar paydays to chop up and kill other writer’s screenplays, yet this ethos seems to change when Gilroy is confronted by a director who wants to alter his work:

Gilroy did not like working with Liman, who constantly reshot scenes. “He didn’t have any sense of story, or cause and effect,” he says. As quickly as he would write a reversal, Liman would undo it, which angered him. “My scripts are very, very difficult to fuck with,” he says. Liman, for his part, found Gilroy “arrogant.” He remembers a fight with Gilroy early in the preproduction process: “I was telling Tony, I’m going to spend the next two years of my life on the movie . . . and Tony’s saying to me he showed the script to his friend Billy Goldman, and Billy Goldman said it was perfect, and he didn’t want to change a word.” At one point, Liman hired a new screenwriter; Matt Damon threatened to walk off the movie if Gilroy’s script wasn’t used.

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