Saturday, January 07, 2006

The man who wrote for kings

Edward Anhalt was one of the great screenwriters of all-time. A multi-Oscar winner he amassed a tremendous body of impressive work.

In the early 60’s he learned that producer Hal B. Wallis was planning to make a movie of the play BECKET. That subject matter was Anhalt’s absolute passion. He considered himself an expert on the era. No one knew the period as well. He went to Wallis with an impassioned plea that he and he alone was right for this assignment. Wallis made him a deal. Anhalt could write BECKET but he had another project that also needed a writer. If Anhalt would do that first he could have his coveted assignment. Anhalt happily agreed.

So in the same year Mr. Edward Anhalt wrote BECKET and GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS starring Elvis Presley and Stella Stevens.

Moral of this story: If you’re lucky enough to get an assignment on some horrible cheesy Disney Channel show about kids in leprechaun jr. high take heart. Next year you could be on the SOPRANOS.

(I had to do an Elvis story on his birthday weekend.)

5 comments:

Doug Barber said...

Thanks for this post Ken, been enjoying your blog. I'd just finished reflecting on getting psyched up to pitch for a similar type of show. Now if only it was leprechaun jr. high. I bet those kids get into some real shenanigans.

MG. said...

Awesome post, Mr. Levine. Whenever I hear a story like this, I always think of the sobbing notion that Brian Helgeland wrote the amazing L.A. Confidential in 1997 and The Postman (Kevin Costner's worthless valentine to himself) within the same year. And Akiva Goldsman (read, Akiva hack) who wrote Batman & Robin (no need for a quirky comment here) also wrote Cinderella Man. Ehhh...

Stephen Gallagher said...

I think that's kind of cool. I mean, you can allow yourself to have some fun with a piece of froth like GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS if you're doing a BECKET in the same year... whereas if it stands alone as the sum total of your year's achievement, it becomes kind of embarrassing.

Ken Levine said...

I'm just glad the two scripts didn't get accidentally switched. Elvis in the Richard Burton role -- I doubt if the film would have been as well received.

Anonymous said...

Dare I say it? Girls! Girls! Girls! probably required more writing skill and led to a more satisfactory result than did Beckett. Yes, I guess I DO dare say it.