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Posts Tagged ‘Armageddon’

“If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me.”
Holden Caulfield
Catcher in the Rye
Written by J.D. Salinger

How did J.D. Salinger become one of the most wanted writers in Hollywood? By not wanting Hollywood.  Perhaps it would be better said that it was not the reclusive Salinger who was wanted but his work, Catcher in the Rye. When Salinger died a few days ago I imagine producers were excited about the possibility of finally bringing the book to the screen.

Selling the film rights to Catcher in the Rye would be very lucrative for the Salinger estate.

The story goes that Salinger was so upset with the adaption of Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut (made into the 1949 film My Foolish Heart) that he was done with Hollywood. (Though I did notice on IMDB that he is credited a couple times in the last 30 years.)

I don’t know if Salinger ever stepped foot in Iowa but his spirit was drawn here. In the Field of Dreams, the character that James Earl Jones plays (Terrance Mann) was based on Salinger. In the W.P Kinsella book (Shoeless Joe) that the movie is based on the character actually is  J.D. Salinger himself, but he did not allow his name to be used in the film so changes were made. Good thing, too. It would be hard to imagine that film without James Earl Jones, a fine actor but one who doesn’t quite look like Salinger.

Not much is known about Salinger and that’s the way that he wanted it. But that will all change since his death.  Screenwriter Shane Salerno (Shaft, Armageddon) has spent five years working on a self-funded documentary on Salinger. One in which he interviewed over 150 people who “had contact with him otherwise, or were greatly influenced by him.”  (Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, Philip Seymour Hoffman) The documentary is based on Salinger: A Biography, written by Paul Alexander.

Salerno told Mike Fleming at Deadline Hollywood;

“I loved (Salinger’s) work, and how he had the world at his doorstep, and said no thanks. He somehow understood in 1951 the corrosive effect that fame and money could have on his writing. He was singular, and in this Internet age where people pursue their 15 minutes of fame, nobody did what Salinger did: living in the woods in New Hampshire, writing to please only himself.”

Maybe in the future it will be hip to pursue 15 minutes of reclusiveness. I think it was Blaise Pascal who said a few centuries ago that the chief problem of man was that he could not stand to be in room by himself. (I might update that to “by himself—without a TV, a computer and the Internet.”)

Scott W. Smith

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According to IMDB Shane Salerno has co-written or re-written four films that have opened #1 at the box office; Armageddon, Breakdown, Alien vs. Predator, Shaft (though not always credited). He got a jump start in the business when he made an award winning documentary in high school that landed him on Larry King Live. That opened the door for him at age 19 as an apprentice on the TV program NYPD Blue.

Salerno likes to stress that he was raised by a single mother, didn’t come from money, and never went to college. He probably says those things to encourage you and help you avoid the tired excuses.

I found a couple quotes of his from Screenwriting Expo 3 held years ago which echos some favorite themes here on Screenwriting from Iowa, or wherever you live outside L.A.

“I just hope these people stay persistent because sometimes it’s six or eight scripts before they have that great script. All the people they admire went through these things and had adversity. Oliver Stone wrote 10 scripts before he wrote Platoon which got him all of his first jobs which got him Midnight Express and then he waited 10 years to get Platoon made...I attended all these (film industry) functions, the classes and the bookstores reading all the time. I have a 10,000-book library in my house from collecting books over the years. Young writers and beginning writers need to stay persistent and understand what the odds are against them succeeding.”
Shane Salerno
Interview With Screenwriter Shane Salerno
J. Freedman, FilmMakers.com

Related post: Beatles, Cody, King  & 10,000 Hours


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