The Los Angeles Times has launched Scriptland, a Calendar section column hyped as "a new weekly feature on the work and professional lives of screenwriters." Unfortunately, the debut piece by free-lancer Jay A. Fernandez reads more like... well, like a gushy, gossipy attempt to mimic those film-geek websites where would-be experts "review" screenplays in various stages of production.
Nikki Finke is not amused: "Simply put: You can't review screenplays. If you want to 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?"
And David Poland is positively apoplectic: "Why is the Los Angeles Times starting a gossip column about scripts? What is the news value in this? What is the morality of this?"
A column about scripts takes things to a level of film-geekdom beyond mine. And I agree that it is ridiculous and meaningless to review works-in-progress, and perhaps in very, very early stages of progress at that. Scriptland should definitely be shelved alongside the National Enquirer, if not The Weekly World News.
And yet...I can't say that I wasn't interested in reading it,(she said, sheepishly, putting on her dark glasses and slinking away from the newsstand).
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