Festival of Books – The “On Page and Screen” Panel

The first one we went to took place on Sunday morning. It was the “On Page and Screen” panel was moderated by Ron Hogan of GalleyCat. The panelists were Tom Epperson who’s Billy Bob Thorton‘s occasional writing partner, Chris Miller of Animal House fame, Mark Frost writer for Twin Peaks and Gary David Goldberg creator of Family Ties.

This panel was – no surprise here – very entertaining. The panelists were all fun and engaging. Gary David Goldberg when asked how he got into the business said, “The thing that worked for me is that I was wildly unsuccessful at everything else. I wanted to play center fielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers and had no back up plan.” He then went on to say that by the age of 31 he hadn’t finished college or filed a tax return.

As aspiring slackers – we found that inspirational.

Chris Miller, who is writing a memoir about the real Animal House was asked about how that project came into being. Essentially it was a short story written for National Lampoons, then that became a movie and 25 years later he’s now writing a book about it. Miller explained it like this,”It went page, screen, page”.

Inevitably when the word ‘memoir’ was brought up this year – the names “Margaret B. Jones” or “Peggy Seltzer” were also mentioned. We heard that this was true of even the fiction panel. Anyway, the question was posed to Miller who said,”I tried my best to tell it like it happened, but I was really hammered.”

During the Q&A the panel was asked about their relationships with co-writers. Mark Frost said,”The only co-writer I’ve ever had was David Lynch.” Which drew huge laughter. Then he continued,”So I’ve seen what life is like on other planets.”

Tom Epperson, was asked about his co-writer credits and cleared up that he was in fact not the co-writer of Sling Blade as was relayed by the moderator. We saw Ron Hogan blush. It was worth the price of admission. Which, for press people was free. But still. A lessor moderator would have made themselves into the story. But not Hogan.

People were also very interested in hearing about Family Ties. They asked about the casting decision not to have Matthew Broderick play the character Alex P. Keaton. Goldberg said that Micheal J. Fox is one of only 5 actors who is actually like you want him to be. He named Tom Hanks as another one. “Originally the only audience we’d get is the people that didn’t get in to watch Jonie Love Chachi. They weren’t exactly happy to be there. Then we started to notice that they would all lean forward when Micheal was on.” And thus the show became about Alex P. Keaton.