Celebrating National Library Week with a full torso apparition in the NYPL

Two iconic lions guard the main branch of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Mayor LaGuardia named them Patience and Fortitude as encouragement to his citizens during the Great Depression. The library, as a building and as an idea, is a tribute to knowledge and culture and boundless human endeavor. We decided to celebrate National Library Week by highlighting a classic cinematic library scene and paying tribute to one fine example of human endeavor. GHOSTBUSTERS (1984), written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, opens with an external shot of the famous lions and then reveals the strange phenomena happening in the stacks.  It’s Doctors Venkman, Stantz and Spengler to the rescue.

librarian

Librarian Eleanor Twitty, Class IV Semi-Anchored Entity

Below are four pages from the third draft, dated September 30, 1983.  The guys encounter the ghost of an older female librarian who turns into a demon and scares them off.  But they are inspired to become the Ghostbusters, much to the delight and happiness of audiences worldwide.

While we are not as big as the NYPL (and we don’t have cool marble lions), the WGF Library is the largest library dedicated to screenwriting and we want to share what we have with you.  So come and celebrate libraries with us!

ghostbusters  p10

ghostbusters p11

ghostbusters p12

ghostbusters p13

THE WRITER SPEAKS: ALLAN MANINGS

Eden Fury is a Communications Intern at the Writers Guild Foundation.

Allan Manings is best known for creating the Norman Lear-produced series ONE DAY AT A TIME with his writing partner and wife, actress Whitney Blake. ONE DAY was based on Blake’s life as a single mother, before she met Manings. He then went on to write and produce another Lear show, GOOD TIMES. Manings also worked as a writer and script supervisor on ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN, for which he received an Emmy, and wrote episodes for McHALE’S NAVY and LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.

After his death in 2010, the Manings family donated several original scripts (complete with margin notes) to the Foundation’s library for most of the shows mentioned above, as well as BUSTIN’ LOOSE, THE DAVID FROST REVUE and many others. The donation was so extensive that we’re still in the process of, well, processing it – but much of it is already available in our library and archive. And if there’s some aspect of Manings’ work you’re interested in, contact our library and we’ll try to help you out.

Here’s Manings telling his life story as part of our ongoing oral history series THE WRITER SPEAKS.

SCREENPLAY 101: ADAPTATION

Keri Marken is an MLIS candidate at UCLA, and a Writers Guild Foundation archival intern.

With three scripts on the WGA’s list of 101 Greatest Screenplays, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman appears to have this writing thing down pat. Kaufman has garnered critical acclaim for crafting some of the most original and imaginative storylines, centered on some of the most interesting and awkwardly funny characters. However, Kaufman’s screenplay, ADAPTATION, based on the book “The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orlean, is unique in that the central character happens to be Charlie Kaufman himself.

Positioned at number 77 on WGA’s list, ADAPTATION brings two storylines together—one is Kaufman’s struggle to adapt Susan Orlean’s book for the screen, while the other focuses on the actual plot and characters of the book itself. Kaufman’s writer’s block is a main element in the story, which provides the audience with a glimpse into the writer’s world…one that is fraught with impending deadlines, a lack of motivation, and general feelings of inferiority.

In order to illustrate his struggle, Kaufman employs a fictitious twin brother, Donald, who becomes a constant source of annoyance for Charlie due to his seemingly effortless attempt to launch a screenwriting career. Donald’s inexperience, cliché story ideas, and general naivety contribute to Charlie’s growing neurosis. Kaufman’s impatience is evident in the pages below, when Donald suggests the benefits of attending a screenwriting seminar. Yet, even though Donald represents the frustration that often accompanies the writing process, he is still an integral part of the finished product and as such, earns his own writing credit in this collaborative effort.

Here are four pages from our April 2, 2001 draft:

Adaptation_17 Adaptation_18 Adaptation_19 Adaptation_20

Here’s the deal: Throughout 2014, we’re posting pages from every script on the WGA’s list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays, as chosen by Guild membership, because we have every one in our library. Sure, we have other scripts that didn’t make it onto the list, either because they didn’t make the cut or because they were produced after the list was generated (presumably SHARKNADO, which we totally have a copy of, is only in the latter category).

Screenplay 101: THE PRODUCERS

Combine a sleazy Broadway producer taking advantage of little old ladies with one extremely nervous accountant cajoled into performing some “creative accounting.” Mix in a hippie actor named Lorenzo St. Du Bois – or LSD – and a fanatic former Nazi who loves Hitler with all his heart. Blend it all up into a Broadway musical praising the Third Reich. It’s sure to flop, at least if Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) and Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) have anything to do with it.

#79 on the WGA’s list of the 101 best screenplays is the 1968 film THE PRODUCERS, written and directed by Mel Brooks. This was Brooks’ directorial debut; he won an Oscar as well as WGA Award for best screenplay.

Max and Leo spend the film scheming to produce the worst musical ever made, intending to keep all the investors’ money. There is no way they can fail with a musical written as a love letter to Adolf Hitler. They don’t count on the audience thinking it’s a farce and loving the show!

Brooks’ eccentric characters and the absurd situations are so far over the top that they almost seem plausible. The pages below, from a 1967 draft, show our producers sucking up to the musical’s writer Franz Liebkind to get into business with him. They involve the unwitting and unhinged Liebkind in their plan, even as Franz reveals his deep admiration for Hitler in a monologue, ending with the declaration that Hitler could “dance the pants off Churchill!” Brooks boldly goes all out on every joke. While the risk of our two titular producers resulted only in jail sentences, the risk Brooks took in making fun of Hitler and the Nazis just 23 years after WWII paid off for him in spades. Bialystock and Bloom’s loss was certainly our gain.

producers_Part1 producers_Part2 producers_Part3

Here’s the deal: Throughout 2014, we’re posting pages from every script on the WGA’s list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays, as chosen by Guild membership, because we have every one in our library. Sure, we have other scripts that didn’t make it onto the list, either because they didn’t make the cut or because they were produced after the list was generated (presumably SHARKNADO, which we totally have a copy of, is only in the latter category).

SCREENPLAY 101: HAROLD AND MAUDE

Released in 1971, HAROLD AND MAUDE originated from, of all places, writer Colin Higgins’ masters thesis at UCLA.  Its dark humor and unique exploration of the meaning of life are still moving and relevant, even after 40 years.  Join us as we look at #86 on the WGA’s 101 Greatest Screenplays.

The relationship between 20-year-old Harold and 80-year-old Maude is probably one of the most unusual romances ever seen onscreen.  Harold has no direction in life, sees a therapist, attends funerals for fun, and has performed seventeen fake “suicides” by the time we meet him.  Having had enough, his mother arranges dates for him throughout the film – but the only woman who catches his eye is the vivacious and optimistic (not to mention elderly) Maude.  Beyond their common interest in funerals, Maude brings some spontaneity and laughter into Harold’s life – she steals cars, sits nude for a sculptor, evades a cop and appreciates the tiniest differences from one flower to the next.

In these four pages from a May 1970 draft, Maude speaks beautifully about the grandness of life and we see Harold learning to loosen up.  Indicating their growing intimacy, Harold holds Maude’s hand and kisses it.  He notices a number tattooed on her skin, alluding to her past as a Nazi prisoner.  In this short and tender moment, we feel the depth of Maude’s history and begin to understand the reasons for her unconventional behavior, which makes the rest of the film that much more moving.

HaroldAndMaude_1970May29_68 HaroldAndMaude_1970May29_69 HaroldAndMaude_1970May29_70 HaroldAndMaude_1970May29_71

Here’s the deal: Throughout 2014, we’re posting pages from every script on the WGA’s list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays, as chosen by Guild membership, because we have every one in our library. Sure, we have other scripts that didn’t make it onto the list, either because they didn’t make the cut or because they were produced after the list was generated (presumably SHARKNADO, which we totally have a copy of, is only in the latter category).