On the centennial anniversary of the birth of Oscar-winning On The Waterfront and A Face In The Crowd writer Budd Schulberg, his widow Betsy Schulberg has signed with Gersh to rep his estate. He died at 95 in 2009. The agency plans to steer several adaptations of his novels and reboots of his classic works. Schulberg wrote the Oscar-winning script for Elia Kazan’s On The Waterfront, and the novels What Makes Sammy Run?, The Disenchanted and The Harder They Fall. The son of a powerful Paramount exec, Schulberg had a boisterous and highly eventful life with his share of controversy. He famously became a friendly witness at the House Un-American Activities Committee, testifying about his time as a member of the Communist Party and naming eight Hollywood colleagues who were also members. He also served in the OSS in WWII and reportedly compiled evidence against and arrested Nazi propagandist director Leni Reifenstahl.
“Without Budd Schulberg, the Hollywood that we know of today wouldn’t exist, as he created the paradigm for what success stands for in this business as a writer and creative talent,” said Gersh co-head Bob Gersh. “He was an American treasure and a Hollywood legend, and we couldn’t be more pleased at Gersh to work with his estate on future projects that will entertain and inform audiences for generations to come.”
Schulberg’s son Benn is shooting a docu on his dad, Hollywood Renegade: The Many Loves Of Budd Schulberg, which was produced by Stephen Nemeth and executive produced by Ben Stiller and Spike Lee. Stiller long planned to direct a version of What Makes Sammy Run?, planning to play Hollywood hustler Sammy Glick. “Budd Schulberg lived Hollywood history, and chronicled it all,” said Stiller. “He was not one to shy away from controversy, and his work as a writer captured an era in 20th century America that is now fading away. Sammy remains the prototypical Hollywood novel and probably always will.”
Lee was working with Schulberg on a film about boxer Joe Louis when the writer passed away. “I miss my dear friend Budd Schulberg,” Lee said. “We got along great, and I promised him that I would get our project Save Us, Joe Louis (which he co-wrote) made and I will make good on that promise.” Other projects are in the offing, including The Disenchanted, the novel inspired by his friendship with The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Seems to be a lot of works for Gersh to deal with.