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Scripts, Doctor

August 14, 1994

"It's All in the Stars" by Richard Natale (Aug. 7) was much more revealing in what was not said than in what was. Nowhere in this lengthy analysis of how big stars can make big flops does anyone mention the single most important factor: bad scripts.

It's telling that none of the Hollywood wise men quoted even suggest there may be a connection between box-office performance and the quality of a script. Too many executives understand too little about what makes a script work or not, and they pay dearly for that ignorance, year after year. It's easy to be blinded by fabulous concepts ("Bruce Willis as Hudson Hawk!" "Eddie Murphy in 'Beverly Hills Cop III'!") but think of the money and embarrassment that could've been saved had someone sat down and read these scripts before shooting and said, "Hey, wait a minute. This stinks."

When some star-driven piece of dreck goes belly-up at the box office, top execs always have very sophisticated explanations: the release date, the competition, the ad campaign, the mood of the country. But the lesson is much more simple. Put a big star with a bad script and what do you get? Surprise. A big star in a bad movie.

ROB FRESCO

Los Angeles

Regarding why movie stars are so obviously overpaid when they only sporadically pay any decent return on the investment in them, I point to what William Goldman said in his book, "Adventures in the Screen Trade."

"Stars are essentially meaningless. Studio executives know this--they know that the picture is the star. . . . They absolutely, positively, one hundred percent in their heart of hearts, in the dark nights of their souls, they know it.

"They just don't believe it, that's all."

CRAIG FURNAS

Corona del Mar

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