Show Business Writers Discuss Work

In a sense, classic movie bloggers are show business writers on the periphery. We observe and are drawn to the goings-on of the movie world, like moths to the flame.

And then there are the writers on the inside of entertainment - the playwrights and screenwriters. They get the ball rolling, expressing what they want to say through an orchestra of actors, crew members and distribution centers, finally reaching the rest of us (hopefully with what they wanted to express still intact).

Let's get inspired by playwrights and screenwriters and their observations of show business.
Leonard Bernstein, Adolph Green, Betty Comden and Jerome Robbins in 1944,  making changes for“On the Town.”

Neil Simon
"I don't like writing for comedians. I like writing for actors. The best comedians are the best actors."

"You're a witness. You're always standing around watching what's happening, scribbling in your book what other people do. You have to get in the middle of it. You have to take sides. Make a contribution to the fight. Any fight. The one you believe in."

"In a sense, everything you write is autobiographical because it is going through your brain, so it comes out like litmus paper, it always catches some of who you are."

Betty Comden
"There is something about the creative process... which is that you can't talk about it. You try to think of anecdotes about it, and you try to explain, but you're never really saying what happened... it's a sort of happy accident."

"As members of the Freed unit, we had a very unusual experience for writers in Hollywood. The unit had a reputation for being very respectful of all its various talents, particularly the writers, and it was true. No other writer was ever put on one of our pictures, and no one was ever brought in to rewrite anything. Never. Which was very unusual. "

Joseph Mankiewicz
"Every screenwriter worthy of the name has already directed his film when he has written his script."

"I felt the urge to direct because I couldn't stomach what was being done with what I wrote."

Adolph Green
 "As a main ingredient to the show, it has to have truth, represent truth, or else it won't last."

"We've managed to keep a spirit of fun, I guess, of urban satire and finding new and odd interesting angles to the ways of life to put on the stage."
Herman Mankiewicz
[In a telegram to Ben Hecht urging him to come to Hollywood to write movies]:
"Will you accept 300 per week to work for Paramount? All expenses paid. 300 is peanuts. Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots. Don't let this get around."

Ben Hecht
"Not only was the plot [in movies] the same, but the characters in it never varied. The characters must always be good or bad (and never human) in order not to confuse the plot of Virtue Triumphing. This denouement could be best achieved by stereotypes a fraction removed from those in the comic strips."

"For many years Hollywood held this double lure for me, tremendous sums of money for work that required no more effort than a game of pinochle. Of the 60 movies I wrote, more than half were written in two weeks or less. I received from each script, whether written in two weeks or [never more than] eight weeks, from $50,000 to $150,000. I worked also by the week. My salary ran from $5000 a week up. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1949 paid me $10,000 a week. David O. Selznick once paid me $3500 a day."

Orson Welles

"We live in a snake pit here... I hate it but I just don't allow myself to face the fact that I hold it in contempt because it keeps on turning out to be the only place to go."

"I know that in theory the word is secondary in cinema, but the secret of my work is that everything is based on the word. I always begin with the dialogue. And I do not understand how one dares to write action before dialogue. I must begin with what the characters say. I must know what they say before seeing them do what they do."


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