Warner Bros Goofs By Sending Wrong Version Of Dustin Lance Black's 'J Edgar' Script To Oscar Voters

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros just issued an email to the members of the Writers Branch of the Academy in an attempt to fix its mistake of sending some of them the wrong version of the script for J Edgar by Oscar-winning Milk scribe Dustin Lance Black. Instead of Black’s final shooting script, the studio sent a version given it by Malpaiso that was used in post-production and for continuity, not the final version by which the writer’s awards-season chances should be judged. (For instance, it is missing the writer’s signature descriptions of action between the dialogue). I’d heard that Black was upset by the mistake and concerned it could hurt his Oscar nomination chances. While anything having to do with J. Edgar Hoover smacks of conspiracy, I’m told that the scribe is feeling better after the studio’s fast fix and chalks it up to being an honest mistake. The wrong scripts were sent to about one-third of the writer’s branch who specifically requested a script. Here’s the missive that Warner Bros sent today:

Dear Member of the Writers Branch:

It has just come to our attention that the version of the screenplay for “J. Edgar” that was sent for your consideration was not the shooting script written by Dustin Lance Black, but rather what is known as a continuity draft. The language in this continuity draft was not written by Mr. Black and was meant as a reference tool for post-production only. Please discard it.

We are attaching Dustin Lance Black’s shooting script of “J.EDGAR” to this email and hard copies will follow shortly. We hope you enjoy it.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

    1. The film represents a failure of courage and the making of it is entirely pedestrian. The script is by-the-numbers cliches and direction is self-important without being edifying about anything to do with the man Hoover was, malicious, paranoid, delusional. The Iron Lady, ditto.

  1. Now that the Academy has the “right” script, he’s sure to win. The script blew, like the movie. Doesn’t take a Hollywood analyst to understand why this movie with Clint, Leo and Company can’t crack $40m. DBO. And the Foreign B.O. prospects am sure are even less promising, if there are any to be had. Come on.

  2. Dear Lance,

    The script you wrote hurt your chances. The garbage that was filmed hurt your chances. Not WB’s fault.

  3. they could send out all 50 drafts of that script and not find a good one. that movie sucked. everyone knows it.

  4. I’ve done the same thing in the past. But I’m also a stoner. What’s your excuse Warner Brothers other than being a bunch of ass clowns?

  5. Agreed with the above poster. Twenty percent of the movie is that tried-and-true cliche of a character looking back on his life while dictating a memoir, the other eighty is a filmed version of J. Edgar’s Wikipedia page.

    That said, his actual “Milk” draft was the same (albeit turned into a much better film). No wonder he thinks the same effort might lead to a second statue.

  6. more detrimental to his oscar chances was writing a dry, pretentious, overwrought, and entirely plotless “film” about one of the more intriguing characters in US history.

  7. Hopefully they’ll send the better makeup stills to voters for the Best Makeup category … you know, the ones Clint must have seen and approved. Because the makeup in the movie stinks, it’s awful, don’t know how Eastwood ever thought the Winkleboy look good, much less J. Eddy.

    Is there a Razzie award for makeup – if so, that may be the one award this film wins this season.

  8. That script is excellent. Black deconstructed the conventions of the typical biopic to illustrate deeper truths about the man’s time and the man himself. DiCaprio is excellent. It’s about the man’s whole life including as he aged. I thought often of Dustin Hoffman as Jack Crabb in “Little Big Man.”

    You don’t give moviegoers (and most critics frankly) the wiring they’re used to in a genre…and they get confused like cattle in the holding pen at the rodeo. The script, the film, defies typical biopic conventions. The people who put it down aren’t willing (or able)to address what the film wishes to fulfill or accomplish because it doesn’t meet their preconceived expectations of what a biopic is supposed to do when in fact, in my opinion, it wishes to transcend the limitations OF typical biopic storytelling.

    Together with “Flags of Our Fathers” (absurdly attacked and maligned when it was released; it is equally excellent) and “Letters from Iwo Jima” Eastwood has put together a trio of pictures that say a great deal about the arranged perceptions we all have of American history. It’s a shame that they probably can’t be sold together on DVD because they represent a classy and instructive collection exploring the themes of perception vs. reality; of art vs. artifice; of P.R. vs. genuine evocations of history; of the factual vs. the apocryphal. Imagine’s “Frost/Nixon” mines similar themes and just as well. WB dropped the ball on Naomi Watts too, a fascinating performance of penetrating stillness – the stoic secretarial version of “Make My Day.” Unfathomably underrated performance of restraint. She makes it look easy.

    1. “Black deconstructed the conventions of the typical biopic to illustrate deeper truths about the man’s time and the man himself.”

      This sentence, while impressive sounding, means absolutely nothing.

  9. God you are all so mean. Snarky Hollywood. I’ve seen worse scripts get submitted for Oscar consideration. If he doesn’t get a nod, that is that. Life’s too short to be so bitchy.

  10. All the above comments prove is that for a bio pic to be considered good it should always stick to the classical narrative, but if there is an effort to rework the structure it will not receive pretty much any thoughtful consideration but only comments like “oh so long, so dull, so slow…” Yet with even some faults J Edgar is far more interesting and better than the majority of films that are out there at the moment and this has been the case of all the recent Eastwood films. It comes down almost to the fact that people do not anymore have skills to read films that actually ask you to take your time and also think while you watch….and/or in the case of J Edgar actually know at least some nuances of the factual history it is trying to portray with the tools of fiction….Either way we all already know what kind of replies this post gets…

    1. You’ve got it backwards. People object to J EDGAR precisely because it DOES follow the tired format of the biopic, religiously. An elderly Hoover, played by DiCaprio under pounds of old age makeup, narrates his life story in an endless series of flashbacks. I’m not sure what “structure” you think is being “reworked” here.

      1. It is exactly the backwards thing that it is trying to rework (and having flaws) just like Flags of Our Fathers was trying to work out someone having a flashback in a scene that was remembered by a character in another and thus forming that into a tool of commentary itself. In J Edgar it is trying to introduce the idea of a narrator (old DiCaprio) in the traditional sense of a biopic which is then revealed by one of the characters (Tolson/Hammer)to be an untrustworthy narrator. While this is not the best forum to explain what I think,and might well be wrong and need more viewings, it was trying to do and in some parts was still flawed, I still do think that people who got bored expected and even more straightforward bio picture (Hoover in love undercover or Hoover the top cop/bad cop) or an easier to understand narrative (Do many audience members know, remember e.g Palmer and can draw resources of history to “interpret” those scenes?). Either way it does not remove the fact that the film deserves much better comments than “oh so boring, Transformers was far more action” and remains an interesting piece.

        I would assume that instead of “objecting to structures or biopics” many moviegoers just though “oh Leo was good in a good movie…what’s it called Aviator perhaps this will be just like it…”

  11. It would be interesting to see what Black’s draft of MILK looked like before Ron Nyswaner did a wholesale rewrite. If J. EDGAR got the same treatment, it sure doesn’t show.

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