From Books to Film – Romance or Nightmare?

From Books to Film – Romance or Nightmare?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Look what they’ve done to my book, Ma!

The Independent Writers of Southern California presents a special program on what getting “The Hollywood Treatment” means for writers—and how a writer can best position his or her work for a screen option.  What can a novelist expect when your book gets an offer to be adapted into a movie? For that matter, what storytelling qualities help make a novel, biography/memoir, or news article a must-see for the screen? And likewise, how has the lightning pace of movies and TV changed what Larry McMurtry calls “the Culture of the Book?”

Those are some of the main questions IWOSC’s November panel, produced and moderated by Telly Davidson, will deal with, featuring an “A-List” lineup of Hollywood experts from both sides of the industry: top writers who have had their material adapted for the screen (or who have worked on adaptations of other people’s work), and the literary agents and executives who help decide WHICH books and articles garner a movie deal. Students, entertainment writers, and (aspiring) writers of either books or screenplays will find much to learn, a Q&A, plus networking with the panelists following the discussion.

The Panelists:
BARBARA SCHIFFMAN brings three decades’ experience to her role as a script supervisor, consultant, and acquisitions executive in film and television. Her long list of script consulting clients includes studio, network and indie producers plus writers and directors. Her current clients include HBO Films, Picturehouse and Miramax. She’s also a published journalist/author, a featured speaker at many film/publishing industry events and pitchfests, and co-founded Toastmasters 4 Writers. In addition, she has coached private clients and people working in all areas of film, TV, music, new media and writing/publishing over the past 12 years as a coach/ trainer for Flash Forward Institute. She also currently hosts/produces the weekly Internet radio show “Living in Balance,” and, as a Life Balance Coach, teaches tools to help people fulfill their life/career visions.

PETER LEFCOURT is the best-selling author of the satirical novels “The Dreyfus Affair” (about a gay baseball player, and a possible inspiration for Broadway’s recent hit “Take Me Out”), “Di and I”,”Eleven Karens,” “Abbreviating Ernie,” “The Woody,” and “The Deal”—which was recently made into a motion picture starring William H. Macy, Meg Ryan, and LL Cool Jay, and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.  In 2005, he published a sequel to the novel version of “The Deal,” called “The Manhattan Beach Project.”   In addition to his own book-to-film deals, his other film and TV credits include the Emmy-winning landmark “Cagney & Lacey” and the critically acclaimed Showtime satire of Hollywood, “Beggars & Choosers,” which ran from 1999 to 2001. Lefcourt recently edited the nonfiction compilation “The First Time I Got Paid For It,” a collection of real-life stories of writers’ “first times” selling their scripts in movies and TV.

MARVIN J. WOLF is one of the founding fathers of IWOSC, and has served four terms as president of the organization. Wolf is the recipient of numerous awards from the Los Angeles Press Club, the US Marine Corps Combat Correspondents’ Association, and also received the 1994 Lifetime Achievement winner from the American Society of Journalists and Authors.  He has written as a professional since 1965, and his byline has appeared in periodicals and bookstores in at least 132 nations. After a decade of military service, he has been the author, co-author or ghost writer of a dozen books and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, including the bestsellers “Where White Men Fear to Tread” and “Fallen Angels.”  His screen credits include 1993’s “Bloodlines: Murder in the Family” and the 2005 USA Network movie “Ladies Night,” which he adapted for the screen from his short story.  He recently completed his memoir, “The Best Outhouse in Vietnam (and Other War Stories I Never Told Mom),” which is awaiting publication.

BRIAN LIPSON is a Senior Literary Agent at the prestigious Endeavor Agency in Beverly Hills. He has enjoyed a stellar career as a literary agent on both sides of the book world, selling books for top advances to New York publishers and also optioning them and others for the screen in Hollywood.  Prior to his job at Endeavor, Lipson was a top agent with Joel Gotler and Allan Nevins’ Renaissance Literary Management.  His long client list has included writers and celebrities including the likes of Dean Koontz, Harlan Coben, Sharon Osbourne, Stephen Ambrose, Brad Meltzer, and Joyce Carol Oates.

IWOSC’s own Telly Davidson, who last helmed January’s panel, “Trends in the Book Biz.” Davidson is a film and TV critic with, Yahoo Movies, and Hollywood Master Storytellers. He has written for “Entertainment Today,” “TV-Now,” “H” magazine, “Guitar Player,” The213.Net, and the American Film Institute. He has worked on TV’s “Pioneers of Primetime” and “Most Outrageous Game Show Moments,” and his book on classic television, “TV’s Grooviest Variety Shows,” was published to top reviews in 2006. He is currently working on other media tie-in projects and has just completed a novel, which has attracted the interest of several major agents. A member of PEN, he is working on founding a program to promote and interview young/emerging novelists, poets, and screenwriters.