With the writer's strike in full swing, I thought I'd pay tribute to a few of the writers who currently have films in theaters. Quite frankly, you really have to admire some of them. Take Allison Burnett, who adapted Feast of Love (2 screens) as well as this year's earlier Resurrecting the Champ. Burnett received very little love for either movie, but consider how hard it must have been to cut down a novel and expand a newspaper article at the same time? It makes my head spin. It's also quite impressive that Burnett was able to work again after his earlier script was turned into the universally panned film Autumn in New York (2000). But the thing that impressed me most of all about Burnett is his first produced script, Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight (1992), a vehicle for "Z" level action star Don 'The Dragon' Wilson. This is from a guy who studied playwriting and has published a novel. I can only imagine what it must be like to sit down and actually write something like that. Do you tape the paycheck on the wall next to your desk and keep staring at it? Good for Burnett that he made it out of that hole.

Then there's The Simpsons Movie (96 screens), which has at least eleven credited writers, and possibly more who added material without credit. Among them we have David Mirkin, who directed one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures, Heartbreakers (2001), and James L. Brooks, who won an armload of Oscars for Terms of Endearment (1983). Most of the others are from TV, and I'd like to think they wrote this movie the way they might have written a half-hour episode: by sitting around a big table and throwing out ideas and laughing a lot. Those writer rooms are usually decorated with stuffed animals and novelty items, as well as plates of donuts and other snacks -- perhaps some kind of air freshener as well. It makes me all warm just thinking about it.

categories Columns, Cinematical