Evoking memories of the Watts Writers Workshop, created by writer-novelist Budd Schulberg in the wake of the 1965 riots, the screenwriting community is trying to reach out to riot-scarred South-Central Los Angeles by rebuilding two libraries that were destroyed by fire.
"The object is not just to play Lady Bountiful," said screenwriter Roger L. Simon, who is chairing a July 24 fund-raising auction at the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica. "Once these libraries are up and running again, the Writers Guild plans to keep ongoing presence (in the inner city)."
A number of the industry's biggest names, including Lawrence Kasdan, William Goldman, Larry Gelbart, George Lucas, Paul Mazursky and Billy Wilder have agreed to rummage through their drawers in search of annotated scripts to peddle. Trips to European libraries and the Vatican will also be auctioned off.
Sponsors of the event, Writers Guild of America, West, and L.A. Style, hope to persuade the studios to donate material from their archives to help meet the fund-raising goal of $750,000.
The idea of reviving the John Muir and Junipero Serra branch libraries--both located in minimalls--was spurred by a desire to do more than sweep streets and write checks, said Del Reisman, president of the Writers Guild. "Everyone here is deeply involved in trying to make some sort of long-range commitment to the South-Central community, rather than hit and run, give the money and go home," he said.
In the age of word processors and copying machines, why would anyone pay a lot of money for a screenplay?
"We're trying to get actual shooting scripts with annotations on them, with autographs by principals, as opposed to a Xerox of 'Chinatown,' which you can probably buy at Larry Edmonds," said Simon, referring to the Hollywood bookstore specializing in the entertainment field.