LA Times' Scriptland: Just a Terrible Idea

This may be the single worst idea in the history of the Los Angeles Times’ Calendar section. It’s certainly the single worst execution. I’m talking about the just launched “Scriptland” once-a-week column purporting to be “a new weekly feature on the work and professional lives of screenwriters.” What to the LAT editors must have seemed like a fresh idea is sheer lunacy. Because it’s not feasible. Simply put: you can’t review screenplays. If you wanna get all artsy about it, you’re reviewing a work-in-progress akin to the sheet music for a Sinatra song, or the first draft for an Updike book. If you wanna get all Hollywood about it, then you need to know which draft you are reading. The first draft turned in by the writer? The second draft after the studio gave its notes and the mid-level exec who shepherded something awful like Alien vs Predator now actually rewrites scripts from top to bottom because he thinks he’s some kind of boy genius? The third draft after being worked over by the actor’s private screenwriter and the director’s therapist now being arbitrated by the Writers Guild? The shooting script after the studio cut $25 mil from the budget and the actress wouldn’t leave her trailer so the third act got mangled?

As for its execution, this fanboy foolishness smacks of something that Ain’t It Cool News does — and those are geeks who haven’t left their parents’ basement since puberty. And let’s not even comment on the fact that this freelancer makes a jejune Lord of the Rings reference. His overheated writing reminds me of a review by some twentysomething rock critic gushing about the soaring guitar riffs of U2: it’s all clichés, dude. Plus, imagine the sheer naiveté of the guy thinking that writers are important in the Hollywood process: the 411 is that he’s writing about an Industry that devalues writers much like the Republicans devalue illegal aliens. It’s all about the exploitation. Finally, judging from this first rendition, Scriptland looks like little more than another LAT opportunity to engage in entertainment puffery. I mean, there’s not one mean-spirited comment in the entire column; how realistic is that? Pathetic that the paper thinks this is the way to massage the movie studios into reversing their cutting-to-the-bone of those full-page ads in Calendar. Jeez, there’s not even anything this fatuous and vapid in the Writers Guild magazine. I predict Scriptland will soon become the most made-fun-of feature since the NYT‘s Style section became obsessed with LaLaLand. Put this column in turnaround.

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