Screen, TV Writing Bios

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Backstory 2: Interviews With Screenwriters of the 1940s and 1950s
by Pat McGilligan
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Budd Schulberg
by Nicholas Beck
This is the first overview of Schulberg’s career 1937-2000 (his own autobiography, “Moving Pictures”, covers his life only to age 17). For more than six decades, Budd Wilson Schulberg has known success in virtually every category of American writing. Raised in the Hollywood of the 1920s as the privileged son of a pioneer studio mogul, Schulberg achieved fame as novelist, short story writer, playwright, Oscar-winning screenwriter and boxing historian. He also became a central figure in the entertainment industry’s political turmoil of the 1940s and 50s, fleeing first from the Communist Party’s attempts to control his writing, then testifying as a cooperating witness before the House Committee on Un-American activities, and finally emerging as a leader of the nation’s non-Communist Left.
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Conversations with Screenwriters
by Susan Bullington Katz
American Cinematographer: This fine collection of interviews is highly recommended for anyone interested in how the filmmaking process begins.
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Conversations With Wilder
by Billy Wilder, Cameron Crowe
The Los Angeles Times Book Review: … Crowe’s book is a pleasure …. He was drawn to Wilder out of admiration and the idea of doing an extended interview book, such as Franqois Truffaut did with Alfred Hitchcock in the 1960s. He’s well-equipped: He does comedy himself; he is a writer-director; and he has a real tenderness for the older man, enough to handle those moments when Wilder is brusque, forgetful or pretty rough.
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Dennis Potter: A Life on Screen
by John R. Cook, Kenith Trodd, Kenith Trodd
A full-length examination of the work of the late, celebrated British television playwright Dennis Potter. Drawing upon a wealth of original research, including a rare interview with the writer himself, John Cook reveals for the first time the often astonishing array of themes which link all of Potter’s writing — from his early television plays in the 1960s through his final works in 1994.
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Elia Kazan: A Life
by Elia Kazan
The tumult of Kazan’s life, which encompassed directing great plays and films (“A Streetcar Named Desire,” “On the Waterfront”), naming names before the HUAC committee, and later life as a novelist, is fully captured in this prolix but fascinating autobiography.
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Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrick
by Frederic Raphael
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The Fantastic Mr. Anderson: A Biography of Wes Anderson
by Jennifer Warner
Ever since “Bottle Rocket” charmed it’s way onto movie screens across the country in 1996, Wes Anderson’s unique and creative style of filmmaking has captivated audiences worldwide. Much has been written about his movies, but little has been written about the man. This short biography gives you an inside look at the person behind the movies.
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The First Time I Got Paid For It: Writers’ Tales From The Hollywood
Trenches

by Laura J. Shapiro (Editor), Peter Lefcourt (Editor), William Goldman (Introduction)
The First Time I Got Paid For It is an unprecedented collection of essays by over 50 leading film and television writers. Linked by the theme of a writer’s “first time” — usually the first time they got paid for their work, but sometimes veering off into other, more unconventional, “first times,” these essays examine what it takes to succeed, what it takes to write well, and other aspects of maintaining creativity and integrity while striving for a career in Hollywood.
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George Lucas: Interviews (Conversations With Filmmakers Series)
by Sally Kline, George Lucas
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The Gordon File: A Screenwriter Recalls Twenty Years of FBI Surveillance
by Bernard Gordon
Bernard Gordon tells the compelling, cautionary story of his life under Bureau surveillance. Drawing on his FBI file of over 300 pages, which he obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, he traces how the Bureau followed him from Hollywood to Mexico, Paris, London, Rome, and even aboard a Dutch freighter as he created an unusually successful, albeit uncredited, career as a screenwriter and producer during the blacklist years. Comparing his actual activities during that time to records in the file, he pointedly and often humorously underscores how often the FBI got it wrong, from the smallest details of his life to the main fact of his not being a threat to national security.
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A Grand Guy: The Art and Life of Terry Southern
by Lee Hill
Publishers Weekly: In 1964, Southern was on the crest of celebrity. Not only had his underground 1959 novel, Candy (published by Olympia Press in Paris), been launched in the U.S., landing high on the bestseller list, but his screenplay for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove was critically and commercially celebrated as a comic masterpiece. Today, Candy is a cult book and Dr. Strangelove is a classic. This well-researched and thoughtful biography is the first full life of the writer, whose novels never achieved the fame of his screenplays.
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Hacking Hollywood: The Creative Geniuses Behind Homeland, Girls, Mad Men, The Sopranos, Lost, and More
by Chuck Salter
These stories, originally published in Fast Company, reveal the industry’s brightest and most daring minds at work. Hacking Hollywood is for anyone curious to know what it takes to succeed in an insanely competitive industry that has an insatiable hunger for new ideas but is also notoriously resistant to change. Chock-full of strategies, lessons, and inspiration.
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Hollywood Animal: A Memoir
by Joe Eszterhas
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Hollywoodaholic: Confessions of a Screenwriter
by A. Wayne Carter
Everyone who has ever thought about writing or working in Hollywood will want to read this book. These are the personal and often outrageous adventures of a veteran screenwriter who has worked extensively for the major studios, as well as with major directors such as Richard Donner and James Cameron. There are abundant writing lessons to be learned here, but “life” lessons, as well.
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Inner Views: Filmmakers in Conversation
by David Breskin
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I’d Hate Myself in the Morning: A Memoir
by Ring W. Lardner
Booklist: The only thing wrong with this book is that it’s a memoir and not a full-blown autobiography. Lardner was a two-time Academy Award winner — he won the best original screenplay award for Woman of the Year and best adapted screenplay award for M*A*S*H — and a member of the “Hollywood Ten,” the group of writers and directors who went to jail rather than name names to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). In this book, he easily blends sketches of his famous father, which almost belie the popular notion of the man, with those of his student days in Moscow and anecdotes of his Hollywood and blacklist years.
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In Capra’s Shadow: The Life And Career of Screenwriter Robert Riskin
by Ian Scott
Because screenwriter Robert Riskin spent most of his career collaborating with legendary Hollywood director Frank Capra, Riskin’s own unique contributions to film have been largely overshadowed. With five Academy Award nominations to his credit for such monumental films as Lady for a Day, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can’t Take It with You, Here Comes the Groom, and It Happened One Night (for which he won the Oscar), Riskin is often imitated but rarely equaled. In Capra’s Shadow: The Life and Career of Screenwriter Robert Riskin is the first sociohistorical analysis of the Hollywood pioneer’s life and work. Author Ian Scott provides a unique perspective on Riskin, his impact on cinema, and the ways in which his brilliant, pithy style was realized in Capra’s films.
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Inside Out: A Memoir of the Blacklist
by Walter Bernstein
Arthur Miller: “The best book on the blacklist I have read.”
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Joel and Ethan Coen: Blood Siblings (Ultrascreen Series)
by Paul A. Woods (Editor)
Completely revised and updated, this book collects the best interviews, articles, and film reviews of director/screenwriter Joel Coen and producer/screenwriter Ethan Coen. Together, the brothers have created such cult classics as Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and the Oscar-winning Fargo, earning themselves a reputation for brilliance at offbeat black comedy. This publication, featuring dozens of photographs, coincides with the release of the new Coen brothers film Intolerable Cruelty, starring George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Billy Bob Thorton.
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Joss Whedon: The Biography
by Amy Pascale (Author), Nathan Fillion (Foreword)
Joss Whedon has made a name for himself in Hollywood for his penchant for telling meaningful, personal tales about love, death, and redemption even against the most dramatic and larger-than-life backdrops. This biography follows his development from a creative child and teenager who spent years away from his family at an elite English public school, through his early successes — which often turned into frustrating heartbreak in both television (Roseanne) and film (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) — to his breakout turn as the creator, writer, and director of the Buffy television series. Extensive, original interviews with Whedon’s family, friends, collaborators, and stars — and with the man himself — offer candid, behind-the-scenes accounts of the making of groundbreaking series such as Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse. Most importantly, however, these conversations present an intimate and revealing portrait of a man whose creativity and storytelling ability have manifested themselves in comics, online media, television, and film.
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Just Another Opinionated A**hole : The Collected Writings of Kevin Smith
by Kevin Smith
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Kazan: The Master Director Discusses His Films
by Jeff Young
The director of “On the Waterfront” speaks.
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Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies
by Dave Itzkoff
The behind-the-scenes story of the making of the iconic movie Network, which transformed the way we think about television and the way television thinks about us. “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
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Martin Scorcese: Interviews (Interviews With Filmmakers Series)
by Peter Brunette, Martin Scorsese
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My Movie Business: A Memoir
by John Irving
Amazon.com: This slender memoir offers a perceptive, if hardly objective, critique of the inherent differences between novels and screenplays, with the writer sharing his own experiences creating both. Irving focuses principally on his crusade to bring The Cider House Rules to the screen, tracing its gestation through four successive directors; with Irving himself attached as scriptwriter, we see the novelist struggling to reconcile the demands of concision against his paternal instincts toward the original book.
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Mythmaker: The Life and Work of George Lucas
by John Baxter
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Oscar-Winning Screenwriters on Screenwriting: The Award-Winning Best in the Business Discuss Their Craft
by Joel Engel
Joel Engel brings together interviews with the best screenwriters working today, each of whom has won an Academy Award for his or her work, and each of whom shares a wealth of knowledge, insight, and experience about this little understood facet of moviemaking. In each essay, writers such as Alan Ball (American Beauty), Eric Roth (Forrest Gump), Marc Norman (Shakespeare in Love), Tom Schulman (Dead Poet’s Society), Kurt Luedtke (Out of Africa), John Irving (The Cider House Rules), and many others explore and explain their craft and technique. Anyone interested in writing, making, or learning about movies will enjoy this behind-the-scenes compilation of wisdom and advice from Hollywood’s natural-born storytellers.
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The Real Nick and Nora: Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, Writers of Stage and Screen Classics
by David L. Goodrich
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Sayles on Sayles
by John Sayles, Gavin Smith
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Screenwriters: America’s Storytellers in Portrait
by Helena Lumme, Mika Manninen
Even if you don’t agree with the editors that screenwriting is the toughest and riskiest profession in the movie business, this lovely book holds tremendous appeal. Screenwriters offers unique visual and verbal portraits of each of the 47 writers covered. The striking photographs presented here were exhibited at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The book also offers brief comments from the screenwriters on the art of writing, particularly for the silver screen.
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The Shocking Miss Pilgrim: A Writer in Early Hollywood
by Frederica Sagor Maas
Frederica Sagor Maas’s life encompasses nearly the entire 20th century (she was born in early July 1900), and during the early years of the Hollywood film industry, she was as fierce a competitor for success as any man. Her memoir’s prose has a charming tone, perfectly matching her Jazz Age exploits, which take up the bulk of the story. The best passages concern Frederica’s adventures in a young industry that was still discovering itself, such as her part in the creation of a motion picture legend: newly arrived actress Lucille LeSueur came up to her one day and said, “I like the way you dress. You dress like a lady. I need that. I want to be dressed right. Smart. I figured you could help.” One shopping expedition later, and Joan Crawford was taking her first steps toward stardom. — Ron Hogan
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Spectator: Talk About Movies and Plays With Those Who Made Them
by Studs Terkel, Garry Wills
Amazon.com: In earlier oral histories such as Working, The Good War, and Hard Times, Studs Terkel showed a virtuoso talent for absorbing the small talk of regular Joes and Janes and turning it into a literary cross-hatch — Robert Browning and Herodotus, Margaret Mead and Steinbeck. It turns out all this was prologue. In The Spectator, Terkel reveals that if he loved the waitresses and hockey players of earlier books, it wasn’t “the way, nor to the same degree, as those in the world of the lively arts.” Reading The Spectator, you marvel once again at Terkel’s facility with people of all kinds–and his deep familiarity with the American century.
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Talking Pictures: Interviews With Young British Film-Makers
by Graham Jones, Lucy Johnson
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TV Creators: Conversations With America’s Top Producers of Television Drama
by James L., Jr Longworth
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A Very Dangerous Citizen: Abraham Lincoln Polonsky and the Hollywood Left
by Paul Buhle, Dave Wagner
Called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in 1951, Polonsky was called a “very dangerous citizen” by Illinois congressman Harold Velde. Blacklisted in Hollywood for refusing to inform on his political associates, this brilliant screenwriter lived a life that offers a unique window on the Cold War in Hollywood.
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The Wes Anderson Collection Hardcover
by Matt Zoller Seitz
The Wes Anderson Collection is the first in-depth overview of Anderson’s filmography, guiding readers through his life and career.
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What I Wish I Knew Before I Moved to Hollywood (2nd Edition)
by T. R. Locke
Based not only on Locke’s own hilarious, rollercoaster experiences in Hollywood as a screenwriter and actor, but the experiences of more than a dozen other artists — from Grammy-nominated singers, to screenwriters, staffers, film and TV executives, festival-winning directors, Emmy-winning filmmakers, platinum-selling record producers and award-winning movie and TV stars. “The book isn’t intended to stop people from following their bliss, but is a wake-up call. If you can’t take the treatment in these pages, stay away from Hollywood. If these stories help you see a way to exploit the system, you may well have what it takes to survive and even prosper there.” – Scriptwriting Secrets
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Women Screenwriters Today: Their Lives and Words
by Marsha McCreadie
Over the course of cinematic history, women screenwriters have played an essential role in the creation of the films we watch. The question of whether women write from a unique perspective has been debated since the silent era. Marsha McCreadie examines how this “female sensibility” has been defined and whether, in fact, it exists at all. The emergence of such recent films as Lost in Translation and Monster would seem to suggest that women screenwriters are moving in a new direction, heading away from the big-budget action movies that dominate Hollywood today. But the existence of action-driven genre films, like the thrillers of Alexandra Seros, would seem to belie the perception that women write more dialogue and character-driven films than male screenwriters. Whether or not women actually write differently from men, and whether or not they are interested in the same topics, the author’s unique approach — working with and through the words and lives of the women screenwriters themselves — allows both readers and writers an otherwise unattainable look into the ever-growing and ever more essential world of women in Hollywood.
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The Women Who Write the Movies: From Frances Marion to Nora Ephron
by Marsha McCreadie
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Why We Write: Personal Statements and Photographic Portraits of 25 Top Screenwriters
by Lorian Tamara Elbert (Editor)
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Zen and the Art of Screenwriting 2: More Insights and Interviews
by William Froug
This new tapestry of Froug’s essays and interviews with top screenwriters, producers and directors is a sequel to his highly popular Zen and the Art of Screenwriting. Once again, Froug proves that he can pull engaging comments from his interviewees and, with his essays, cause both novice and seasoned screenwriters to stop and rethink what they’re doing. The essays are wide-ranging, covering such diverse subjects as creating your own talent, getting your scripts read, avoiding story-structure gurus, entering screenplay contests, Hollywood’s rewrite panic, Hollywood’s ephemeral enthusiasms, the stop-start method for studying films, guarding your surprises, reinventing old ideas, and guilt as a writer’s tool. There’s also a scene-by-scene look at the film Body Heat. The interviewed filmmakers are Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon, The Omen), Scott Frank (Get Shorty, Dead Again), Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Payback), Nicholas Kazan (Reversal of Fortune, Fallen), Frank Pierson (Dog Day Afternoon, Cool Hand Luke), Eric Roth (The Horse Whisperer, Forrest Gump), Lauren Shuler-Donner (Any Given Sunday, Bulworth), Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The American President) and Robin Swicord (Little Women, Practical Magic).
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