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The Smell of Auteurs

February 07, 1988

The rank stench of that ludicrous French farce of the '50s, Auteurism , once again befouls the air of Hollywood.

Despite the fact various directors and actors admired Barry Morrow's original "Rainman" script (Outtakes, by Leonard Klady, Jan. 31), they still felt compelled, with clumsy, meddling mitts, to manhandle it.

Few bad scripts need five different rewrites with five different writers, let alone a good one.

When will these frustrated creators realize that they are not "shapers" of material, merely "interpreters." Their function is, has been, always will be, to serve the vision of the script , not pollute and pervert it to the whimsy of their own egos.

I've personally taken to combatting this cavalier dismissal of the writer's importance (and the inevitable masturbatory waste of time and money which ensues) by refusing to do rewrites on other writers' scripts.

Let the auteurs stick with whoever brought them to the dance. I should like to think when Steven Spielberg wisely exhorted the industry to renew its romance with the word, he meant "respect the writer's talent and trust it more."

Creative rights is one of the dominant issues of the upcoming Writers Guild negotiations. We should take our cue from our brother Dramatists Guild, whose production contract guarantees no additions, omissions or alterations in any script without the author's permission.

In the theater, they learned a long time ago that without the writer, everybody else in the drama-business is out of a job.



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