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REEL LIFE / FILM & VIDEO FILE : Seminar to Help Writers Deal With Rebuffs : Natalie Lemberg, who spent four years composing rejection letters for a Hollywood company, will address issues of getting produced.

May 05, 1994|PANCHO DOLL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

How does your screenplay stink? Let us count the ways.

"While the characters are enchanting, the plot didn't have force."

"While there's much to recommend your screenplay, we're overcommitted already."

"Even though I liked it, I couldn't generate any enthusiasm on the part of others in the organization."

These rebuffs come from Natalie Lemberg. She spent four years with a production company in Hollywood writing letters that said, "Don't call us, we'll call you."

"The rejection formula was to come up with one positive and one negative," she said. "The writer never knows if the reader fell asleep in the middle of the script or if it was the right project, but the wrong company."

Lemberg will help aspiring screenwriters sort out these and other issues of getting produced in a seminar Wednesday evening in Santa Barbara. (For information, call 800-397-2615.)

In contrast to Hollywood's lexicon of rejection euphemisms, we offer this now-famous rejection letter from a Chinese economic journal. The letter was reprinted in the Financial Times newspaper:

"We have read your manuscript with boundless delight.

"If we were to publish your paper, it would be impossible for us to publish any work of lower standard. And as it is unthinkable that in the next thousand years we shall see its equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity."

*

David Brandes, writer and producer of "The Quarrel," will be on hand to answer questions after a screening of his film at the Ojai Film Society's Sunday show.

The film, set in Montreal, deals with a crisis of faith experienced by two survivors of the Holocaust.

Chaim, a disillusioned writer who abandoned his faith after Nazis killed his family, discovers that his old friend Hersh has become an Orthodox rabbi. It renews the philosophical dispute that drove them apart 15 years before when Chaim announced his decision to leave the religious life to become a writer.

The movie will be shown at 4:30 p.m. at the Ojai Playhouse, 145 E. Ojai Ave. Admission is $6.

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