The time: 2003. The place: Black Site: Undisclosed Location. A battered man strung up by his wrists is being questioned by an interrogator. When he refuses to answer he is forced to the ground and held down by three men wearing ski masks.
A couple years after his Reform bar mitzvah, screenwriter Dan Fogelman devoured Philip Roth’s controversial novel “Portnoy’s Complaint.” The tome was a gift from his cousin, Ken Gordon, now the editor of the Jewish Webzine JBooks.com, “a very literary guy who was my hero growing up,” Fogelman said from New York, where he was doing press for his new comedy, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”
Gary David Goldberg did not set out to be a screenwriter. He was already 30 when a teacher at San Diego State University guided him toward the profession. That fateful nudge set Goldberg on his path to becoming a successful writer/producer and director of a string of films and television shows that include "Spin City," "Brooklyn Bridge" and the phenomenally popular sitcom, "Family Ties."
Profile of screenwriter, novelist, and playwright, Ronald Harwood, nominated at this year's Oscars for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly."
The Jewish Journal's senior writer, Brad A. Greenberg, asks Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon about his "frozen chosen" hit "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," about being called an anti-Semite and about being comfortable as a geek
The Journal recently caught up with Judd Apatow to talk about filmmaking, the plethora of Jewish characters in his films and working with his family in "Knocked Up."
"I go to my inner kid," said Kurtzman, who grew up culturally Jewish. "Where do we find our inspiration? It's the movies that inspired us as kids, and a lot of that was sci-fi, but a lot of that sci-fi was fun."
Etgar Keret is coming to Los Angeles, but fear not. This brilliant young Israeli writer of his generation, a skillful satirist who seems to have a knack for expressing the emotions, thoughts and language of his peers, has not gone completely Hollywood.
Eric Roth's impressive resume as a Hollywood screenwriter includes an Oscar (for adapting "Forrest Gump") and a string of reality-based screenplays about the difficulties important people face choosing between realpolitik and personal morality.
Shawn Slovo remembers how her Jewish parents, African National Congress activists, left home in the middle of the night to attend secret meetings. All the while, she said, she resented "having to share my parents with a cause much greater than myself."
The Naumanns are the central characters of "Bee Season," which opens this week in theaters. The film explores the dissolution of the Naumann family after the youngest member, 9-year-old Eliza (Flora Cross), discovers she's a spelling prodigy.
Can you imagine an Orthodox bar mitzvah celebrated in the Arizona desert soon after the Civil War -- with a guest list that includes Apache warriors, gun-slinging outlaws and a minyan imported from Tombstone?
The set is a converted garage in Pico-Robertson. Eight Hollywood hopefuls dressed in T-shirts and cargo pants, holding shovels and frying pans, are waiting for the camera to start rolling.
A boom mike looms overhead and a klieg light shines in their faces, but for screenwriter Shlomo Heimler, these things matter less than the fact that for him this shoot, which advertises volunteering in Israel, is one with soul.
"This is the most meaningful work I have ever done," the 38-year-old former advertising art director said. "When you go to work, there are typically no emotions involved, but this is all heart and soul, for everyone."
"It's All True" (Simon & Schuster, 2004) by David Freeman offers us a portrait of an outsized Hollywood, so unbelievable that it must be dead on. It is, more precisely, a novel, lovingly unfolded about the movie business: How it works and how its players -- adults spoiled by too much money and power -- act out their lives. "Oh me-oh, my-oh," as Henry Wearie would say.
Wearie is the novel's hero. He is actually a fictitious character, a screenwriter trying to hustle a script idea into a movie deal, but in a voice that sounds eerily like that of Freeman, who himself is a screenwriter. In its way, this book serves as a more knowing successor to Freeman's earlier work, "A Hollywood Education," published 18 years ago, after the author had moved to Los Angeles from New York.
So what does a nice Jewish girl know about porn? Quite a bit.
For his third slice of "Pie," Adam Herz upgraded to wedding cake because "I was hosting bachelor parties and going to like, 10 weddings a year."
Leon Uris, the novelist and screenwriter whose best-known works are "Exodus," a popular novel about Jews trying to establish modern Israel, and "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," perhaps the archetypal Hollywood Western, died June 21 at his home on Shelter Island, N.Y. He was 78.
Screenwriter David Dorfman specializes in dark comedies in which "one guy makes another's life a living hell," he said. Which is why Revolution Studio's Todd Garner hired him to write "Anger Management" -- the season's most anticipated comedy -- in 2001. "He told me about a friend sentenced to anger therapy for a barroom brawl," Dorfman said of the premise. "But he'd come out of sessions angrier than when he went in."
In the movie, Jewish nebbish Dave Buznik (Adam Sandler) attends court-mandated therapy with an abrasive, Talmud-quoting shrink (Jack Nicholson). He's forced to sing "I Feel Pretty" and to hang with an "anger ally" (John Turturro) so volatile he imagines hearing anti-Semitic remarks in a bar. ("Are you Jewish?" Buznik asks him. "I could be," he retorts.)
In June 1956, a Jewish 15-year-old girl named Kathy Kohner began tagging along with some of the neighborhood boys and driving out from her Brentwood home to the beach in Malibu. The sport of surfing intrigued her, and she convinced the boys to teach her. Because she was young, slight and a girl, the surfer dudes took to calling her "Gidget," short for "girl midget."
When she told her screenwriter dad, Frederick Kohner, a Czech-born refugee who fled from the Nazis, about the goings on, he wrote the 1957 novel, "Gidget," featuring the lingo and subculture she brought home from the beach.
They told this story at the recent Film and Television Writer's Conference and swore that it was true.
"I feel like the princess living the fairy tale," says Gina Wendkos, screenwriter of the Walt Disney film, "The Princess Diaries," which opens Aug. 3 in Los Angeles.
It's 3 a.m. and I'm awake. Again.
In our Jan. 26 issue, veteran screenwriter Henry Bean told The Journal he wasn't sure his provocative directorial debut, "The Believer," inspired by the true story of a Jewish Nazi, would be well-received at Sundance. He'd heard that distributors were wary of the controversial subject matter. So he was shocked last week when his film won the festival's Grand Jury Prize, the top award in the dramatic competition -- prompting serious discussions with potential distributors. Now that "The Believer" seems poised to have an audience, at least with the art-house crowd, Bean has a particular group of viewers in mind. "There is no audience I'd rather show this to than one of anti-Semites and neo-Nazis," he told The Journal. "I'd love to know what they think."
Move over Sundance, Slamdance, Digidance and Nodance. The two-week showbiz schmoozefest in Park City, Utah, traditionally a launching pad for Jewish indie cinema, is now home to SchmoozeDance, a forum for Jewish filmmakers, journalists, observers and studio execs to celebrate Jewish film.
Not all of them were Jewish, but they were definitely the chosen people -- five Los Angeles and 33 Israeli film students brought together for a two-week "master class" in screenwriting at Tel Aviv University. Held under the auspices of the Tel Aviv-Los Angeles partnership, the class was designed to give a boost to Israel's film industry by improving the capabilities of Israel's future scriptwriters. A further aim -- a subtext, to use the screenwriting term -- was to strengthen sympathy for Israel among American film professionals.