Hollywood Pros Who Have a Way with Prose

By Neal Comment


I’m told that the “On Page & Screen” panel I moderated Sunday morning at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books went well; Tina Dupuy of FishbowlLA gave it a friendly write-up, and from my perspective at the far end of the table, I think she pegs some of what I consider the best parts of the hour: entertaining anecdotes from from veteran TV producer Gary David Goldberg, the passion with which Mark Frost talked about using golf as a platform for discussing human character, the openness with which Animal House co-scripter Chris Miller conceded the difficulties in trying to write a memoir about his real college years (“I tried my best to tell it like it happened, but I was really hammered”), and Tom Epperson‘s stories about shifting from screenplays to a novel, The Kind One, which he’s now turning into a screenplay—and realizing that he’ll have to cut huge chunks of the story to get the film under two hours. And, as Tina reports, Epperson was also very kind when it came to eventually correcting the extra screenwriting credit I gave him during the introduction.

Speaking of that memoir comment: I had brought up the subject of “Margaret B. Jones” because it seemed particularly relevant to the subject of memoir, especially Miller’s artistic decision to switch to an omniscient third person narrator about one-third of the way into the story. (As he put it, when he got involved with the fraternity, he became part of an organism, and his story was caught up in the stories of all the others.) But, as Tina notes, the Jones issue was popping up in discussions all over the Festival—including at least one fiction panel where it seemed more than a little forced.

(Thanks to Nancy Mills for taking this picture of Miller, me, Epperson, and Frost as we were getting ready to head over to our auditorium once we found Goldberg—who turned out to be around a hallway corner just ten feet away.)