Tuesday, March 08, 2005

They call me...Reader.

So I was just perusing my favorite entertainment blog defamer.com , and was tickled pink by the entry "Producing 101: Reading Not Required" (scroll down a bit to view) As much as I laughed at this post, which details the profiling of producer Avi Lerner by the Los Angeles Times, it is also fairly harrowing. I just looked up Avi Lerner's IMDB bio . It is not unimpressive, listing over 160 films in his credits. In the Los Angeles Times article, Mr. Lerner apparently cops to the fact that Hebrew is his native language, and he is not completely comfortable reading scripts in English, so really, he doesn't bother reading them at all.

"...and if you read a script in English you have to understand a lot of subtleties and different meanings. So I just don’t trust myself to know if a script is really good or not.”

Well that's....depressing; but what's even more depressing is that it doesn't even surprise me as much as it should. Sadly, it is not the first time I have heard about one of the big guns not picking up a script in decades. But how's that possible, you might ask? Well, as with everything else in Hollywood, there is a heirchy. Somebody sends over a script which is supposed to be "hot." Producer passes it on to his executive, executive passes it on to their assistant, and the assistant, inevitably passes it off to get "covered." What's that you ask? What the hell does covered mean? Well covered is the past tense of the verb "cover" or "to cover" also "to get coverage." It is at its most potent in its noun form, "coverage." And who provides the coverage? Well readers of course! That's right, in Hollywood, people, (people usually being bitter frustrated writers themselves) get paid decent money to cram a script or 500 page novel (whatever your fancy) in one night, and then write a report on it, known as - coverage. Coverage includes, a plot synopsis, analysis of the materials, i.e. is it good or not, and finally the lofty recommendation. The possibilities for recommendation are, Recommend, Consider, and Pass. Generally speaking, most things put in for coverage get a pass, sometimes a consider, and every once and awhile something will get a recommend. Such are the wheels of fate which determine what scripts and books make it on the polished desks of the best in the business....and what ends up in the trash.

What's fascinating to me about this whole process, is the fact that for a town full of people who pride themselves on being the authority in film making - the real authorities are typing away on well worn labtops in their crappy apartments somewhere in the valley. Its like an underworld of would be graduate students whose words and opinions are taken with the wieght of a supreme being. It is the bulwark behind which many executives, agents, and producers stand. "Well the COVERAGE said....." or "The Reader thought...." Its really pretty crazy when you think about it. And to make the slice of irony cake even sweeter; the sardonic frosting on top is that these readers, whose words are taken as gold, are struggling themselves to make it in the business, as legitimate writers, producers what have you. If they end up finding the script that becomes the next Sixth Sense, they don't get any credit or praise. They get absolutely nothing, except the knowledge that they helped some writer along, while their own careers are still wallowing in uneventfulness.

Such is the life of the reader. To be frank, I don't think I've ever envied a group that had so much unspoken power, less than I envy them.


Anonymous Crazy Monk said...

I was following you until you wrote:

"If they end up finding the script that becomes the next Spiderman 2, they don't get any credit or praise."

I liked Spiderman 2, but I don't think it was because it started off as a great script. Plus, movies like Spiderman 2 don't really get discovered by Readers, right? They are more like developed from within the studio since they are known money makers. Just thought it a weird analogy.

Enjoying the blog... keep it up!

9:05 AM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Yeah, you're right, it wasn't a very good analogy. I meant to choose something that was a huge success and that was the first thing that popped to my mind. I am hereby changing it to The Sixth Sense.


3:39 PM  

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