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ENTERTAINMENT
July 24, 2012 | By Richard Verrier
Free rewrites, competitive pitch sessions and late payments are becoming a fact of life for many screenwriters, according to a recent survey of screenwriters by the Writers Guild of America. The confidential survey, which was sent to members who had worked on feature films or pitched movie ideas in 2011, found that screenwriters are increasingly unhappy with how they are being treated by producers and studios. "The guild has become increasingly concerned based on anecdotal evidence from our members about deteriorating conditions in screen employment and the rise of certain practices that harm both screenwriters and the overall quality of films produced," WGA, West leaders wrote in a recent letter to members.  Among the findings: Most writers working for major studios did rewrites without being paid because they felt it necessary in order to keep their job or get hired in the future; a majority of screenwriters received only one or two guaranteed payments for drafts in their deals; and nearly a quarter believed they weren't paid on time.
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ENTERTAINMENT
April 14, 2014 | By Richard Verrier
Following a predictable script, female film writers continue to lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to earnings and employment, according to a new survey . In the film sector, women writers fell further behind their white male counterparts in 2012, accounting for just 15% of sector employment, down from 17% in 2009. Overall, women remained underrepresented by a factor of more than 3 to 1 among screenwriters, concludes the 2014 Hollywood Writers Report from the Writers Guild of America, West.
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ENTERTAINMENT
April 14, 2014 | By Richard Verrier
Following a predictable script, female film writers continue to lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to earnings and employment, according to a new survey . In the film sector, women writers fell further behind their white male counterparts in 2012, accounting for just 15% of sector employment, down from 17% in 2009. Overall, women remained underrepresented by a factor of more than 3 to 1 among screenwriters, concludes the 2014 Hollywood Writers Report from the Writers Guild of America, West.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 29, 2014 | By David Colker
Lorenzo Semple Jr. was one of the hottest screenwriters in Hollywood in the 1970s and '80s, working on star-studded films such as "Papillon," with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman; "Three Days of the Condor," headlined by Robert Redford; and "Never Say Never Again," Sean Connery's last movie as James Bond. But, rare in the trade, Semple didn't much mind if he was not the sole writer on a film. "Almost all the good scripts I've been involved in, I've been fired off of for one reason or another," he said in a 2011 video interview conducted by the Writers Guild Foundation.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 2, 2012 | By Dawn C. Chmielewski
Screenwriting jobs and wages in Hollywood declined for a second straight year, reflecting the broader pullback in production by the major film studios, according to the Writers Guild of America West. The WGA, which represents about 12,000 writers, reported that employment fell 8% for screenwriters in 2011, compared with a year earlier. Total earnings were down 12.6% from the prior year. Over the last two years, 15% fewer writers worked in film, earning about 20% less in the aggregate.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 25, 2013 | By Richard Verrier
Screenwriters who once viewed television as inferior to the big screen increasingly are giving the small screen more props. That's one of the key takeaways from a survey by the Writers Guild of America, East, which polled about 20% of its 4,000 members who write for film, television and new media. Although more than half of the respondents said they wrote feature films in the last five years, nearly 90% said they intend to seek guild-covered work in television in the next year. "In other words, screenwriters plan to explore opportunities in TV,"  the guild said in a statement.
BUSINESS
July 3, 2010 | By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times
Screenwriter David Steinberg was invited last fall by a producer to pitch his idea for a rewrite of a "high-concept comedy" about an adult slacker for a major studio. Steinberg figured he had a good shot at the assignment with credits like "American Pie 2" under his belt, even though he heard there were many other writers competing for the opening. After an initial meeting, the producer asked him to prepare a more detailed proposal, known as a "beat sheet," outlining each scene and character.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 25, 2013 | By John Horn
After toiling for years in a series of unsatisfying jobs, Robert Rossil finally hit on an idea that he believed could turn everything around: He would become a Hollywood screenwriter. "I had some downfalls. I thought I had to do something big," said Rossil, 41, of Palmdale, who has delivered flowers, worked as a care-giver and sold homes. "I always wanted to grow up to be rich. " Having played soccer as a teen, Rossil thought a script about Uruguay's stunning upset of Brazil in the 1950 World Cup could be his ticket.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 18, 2013 | By Susan King
Syd Field, described by many in the film community as the "guru of all screenwriters," has died at age 77. According to his website , Field died Sunday of hemolytic anemia at his Beverly Hills home, surrounded by his wife, family and friends. Field was the author of eight books, mostly notably "Screenplay: The Basics of Film Writing," considered the the industry's most authoritative guide to screenwriting. It is credited with helping establish the now traditional three-act structure for feature film scripts.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 7, 2007
I was delighted to read that the "Overlooked and Underrated" film festival at the Egyptian Theatre included "The Friends of Eddie Coyle." ["Unappreciated, Ignored and Slighted No More," Dec. 31] As Chris D., the festival programmer, said, "There is a lot of great dialogue in the movie." Too bad Susan King (yet another L.A. Times staffer who seems to act as an unpaid press agent for the Directors Guild of America) saw fit to mention only the movie's director, Peter Yates, who, of course, had nothing to do with the dialogue.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 20, 2014 | By David Colker
Screenwriter Eric Bercovici knew he was not the first choice to adapt "Shogun," the blockbuster 1975 novel by James Clavell about an English seaman marooned in 17th century Japan. Bercovici, who worked on the Paramount lot, read the novel anyway. "I knew right away how to adapt it," he said in a 1981 Los Angeles Times interview. "But damned if I would tell them. " Other writers fell by the wayside, and he was called to meet with Clavell, who had creative control over a proposed TV miniseries based on the book.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 24, 2014 | By Richard Verrier
Studios say they will support efforts by the Writers Guild of America to ensure that screenwriters are paid on time. The Writers Guild of America, West announced this week that it was working with talent agents on a joint project to "address the chronic problem of late payment to screenwriters" to "change the culture of late pay that persists in Hollywood. " The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major film and television studios, expressed support Thursday for the union's so-called late-pay initiative.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 18, 2014 | By David G. Savage and Maura Dolan
WASHINGTON - The California-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is known for progressive rulings that champion individual rights over government and corporations, but when it comes to show business, the "Hollywood Circuit" - as it has been dubbed - stands accused of routinely siding with the home-turf entertainment industry. Judges famously sided with film studios in the early 1980s when the studios sued Sony for infringing their copyrights by selling the Betamax video recorders.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 16, 2014 | By Oliver Gettell
The 10 films nominated for this year's Academy Awards for original screenplay and adapted screenplay tell diverse and distinctive stories: those of a couple squabbling on a Greek vacation, an Irish mother searching for the child she was forced to give up, a Texas electrician turned AIDS activist, and a con artist compelled to work with the FBI on a corruption sting, to name a few. But a common thread emerged among many of the screenwriters in...
ENTERTAINMENT
January 9, 2014 | By Susan King
The authors and screenwriters of "Captain Phillips," "Philomena," "The Spectacular Now," "12 Years a Slave" and "What Maisie Knew" have been nominated for the 26th USC Libraries Scripter Award. Unlike other feature film awards, the Scripter Award honors both the screenwriter or screenwriters of an adaptation, as well as the author on which the screenplay is based. The nominees announced Thursday morning are: "Captain Phillips": Billy Ray, screenwriter; Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty, authors of "A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea. " GOLDEN GLOBES 2014: Play-at-home ballot "Philomena": Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, screenwriters; Martin Sixsmith, author of "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee. " "The Spectacular Now": Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, screenwriters; Tim Tharp, author of the novel of the same name.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 7, 2014 | By Susan King
Screenwriter/director/actor Paul Mazursky, 83, will receive the Writers Guild of America, West's 2014 Screen Laurel Award honoring lifetime achievement in writing for motion pictures. "Paul Mazursky's talents as an actor (he was in Stanley Kubrick's first film) and filmmaker (one of the signature directors of the 1970s) should not be allowed to obscure a central fact: He is among our greatest living screenwriters," WGAW Vice President Howard A. Rodman said in a statement Tuesday.
BUSINESS
September 4, 2009 | Richard Verrier
To pen a living as a Hollywood screenwriter has always required fortitude and patience. Given the ratio between number of writers and available work, the odds of success are long. Now it looks like the odds have become a whole lot longer. Thanks to a recession-driven downturn forcing studios to make fewer movies and TV shows, coupled with a screenwriters strike last year that ground production to a halt, the wordsmiths of Hollywood have seen jobs and income evaporate. That's the bleak take-away from the annual financial report of the Writers Guild of America, West, the union that represents about 8,000 movie and TV screenwriters.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 28, 1986 | PAT McGILLIGAN
Whether they were poets, playwrights, journalists, songwriters or press agents, the generation of writers who streamed to Hollywood in the early sound era had to cope with the exigencies of "talkies" while creating the basic storytelling rules that screenwriters still abide by today. For a new book, "Backstory: Interviews With Screenwriters of Hollywood's Golden Age" (University of California Press), Pat McGilligan has interviewed 15 of the best screenwriters on the Golden Age of Hollywood .
ENTERTAINMENT
December 23, 2013 | By Kelly Marcel
Every writer who sits down and begins a screenplay thinks they know why they're doing it. Knowing why is essential to the process. But sometimes - maybe all of the time - we're fooling ourselves. We don't truly understand why we've written something until long after we're done. From the moment Alison Owen, our British producer, came to me with a preexisting script of P.L. Travers' story (by Sue Smith) and shared her ideas for how it could become the movie that's in theaters as we speak, I was enthralled.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 23, 2013 | By Melisa Wallack & Craig Borten
Craig Borten My emotional attachment to "Dallas Buyers Club" starts with the loss of my father, Buddy. In 1981, he was diagnosed with lymphoma and given six months to live. I observed firsthand the coldness and disconnect of the doctors as well as the limited protocols available. I remember my father's frustration with the medical system. Instead of accepting his sentence, he asked questions, became proactive and looked into alternative treatments in Mexico. Ultimately, my father lived for five more years.
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