At the Humanitas Prize awards luncheon in Universal City earlier this summer, Jacob Aaron Estes picked up a $10,000 cash prize honoring the screenplay for his Paramount Classics film, "Mean Creek," which opens this weekend.
When asked what he would do with the money, the Chicago-bred writer/director told The Journal, "Pay rent."
The "Mean Creek" script depicts what happens when a teenage prank goes horribly wrong on a rafting trip. Such unexpected cruelty, Estes said, is based on "a whole accumulation of childhood experiences that I borrowed from."
At Universal Studios, all the usual characters -- Spider-Man and the Rugrats -- were out in force on Sunday, Nov. 24. But they weren't just there for photo ops with children, instead they were lighting menorahs, spinning dreidels and eating the world's biggest latke at the Chanukah celebration in Universal City.
"We thought that Chanukah was one of the best Jewish holidays that lent itself to the fun family entertainment, and so we worked with a consultant and spoke with a number of rabbis from a variety of groups to create this event," said Brian Pope, Universal vice president of marketing services, who said he hopes that the event -- attended by Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, the Dodgers' Shawn Green, and actor Justin Burfield from "Malcolm in the Middle," -- will become an annual one.