Movies

Another Woman’s Husband is now available in DVD.  Check with Amazon, or your local DVD store!

Movies and TV

I’ve written four movies that have aired on television. All four are different: one is an adaptation of a novel, one is a rewrite assignment, one an original piece, and one is a real person’s story. All four have taught me a great deal about how to write. They can still be found on late night television.

Dying to be Perfect: The Ellen Hart Pena Story. (ABC)

Dying to be PerfectThis is the story of runner Ellen Hart Pena, at one time ranked in the top ten nationally for everything from the 8-K to the marathon. She was married to the Mayor of Denver, Federico Pena, and suffered from an eating disorder which she successfully hid from her husband until it became so severe that it threatened the life of her unborn child and derailed her athletic career.

A note about this one: Federico at the time was in President Clinton’s cabinet as Secretary of Transportation, and so we needed to have our project checked out by the White House before we could move forward. A piece about Ellen in People Magazine sparked the movie.

I interviewed both Federico and Ellen in Washington D.C. at length and admire them both very much. Ellen’s worked really hard to achieve health and maintain it, and their children are doing well.

It stars Esai Morales and Crystal Bernard.

Different (LIFETIME)

DifferentIt’s the story of a brain damaged woman and her mentally retarded husband who have a child of normal intelligence, and how the family comes to terms with the parents being “different”.

Starring Annabeth Gish and Lynn Redgrave.

I wrote this before Forrest Gump and before Sam I Am. I did a lot of research on it, in Alaska, Chicago and California. It was an original script and was a finalist for the PEN Award and a nominee for one given in Hollywood called the California Governor’s Media Access Award, given to scripts that demonstrate the humanity of those with disabilities.

It also was the script that secured a place for me at the National Playwrights Conference, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. This was truly a writer’s dream. Fourteen of us were chosen out of 1200 applicants, and given room and board and a stipend to work for a month with Broadway/Hollywood directors, dramaturgs and actors. In my cast, among others, was Delroy Lindo, and believe me, you can tell if the words work when you have a cast of first-rate actors speaking them. The extraordinary Lloyd Richards headed up the conference and generously spent time with each of us. (He insisted that for his purposes, and the purposes of the Center, there would be no distinction between playwrights and screenwriters, it was about script. And so, for a quiet, joyous, contemplative month, I settled into my work).

Jeffrey Hatcher, an amazing voice, a funny and generous man, was another one of the playwrights there that month. And if you don’t know what he’s done, Google him immediately. I’ll wait.

There. Pretty impressive, huh?

And he’s nice.

Another Woman’s Husband (LIFETIME)

Another Woman's HusbandThis was taken from a novel called Swimming Lessons and starred Lisa Rinna, Gail O’Grady and Dale Midkiff.

It’s the story of two women who discover they’re involved with the same man and what they do about it.

And no, they don’t chop up body parts and leave them around. It’s nice.

Oh, dear, that again.

When it first aired, it was the second highest ranked Lifetime Movie, and so it clearly hit a nerve.

The executive producer, Chuck McLain, and his assistant, Charles Morales, were lovely. They discovered my daughter (maybe twelve at the time) wanted to come on set. They had chocolate chip cookies and milk waiting in our room and gave Martha the chance to get on head phones and listen to the scene being shot. Even now, she remembers that shoot with fondness. So do I.

Another Woman’s Husband is now available in DVD.  Check with Amazon, or your local DVD store!

 

Love Lessons (CBS)

Starring Patty Duke and Ronny Cox.

Love LessonsThis is about a woman turning fifty who discovers she’s pregnant, and how the baby changes her life and that of her husband, a man ready to retire and buy his dream sailboat.

This was a rewrite I ended up rewriting in detail and for which I received a sole script by credit, (sharing a story by credit with the original writers). Rewrites are interesting, and certainly I don’t have a large information pool here, but they’re a challenge. You’re working with another writer’s (or in this case, a writing team’s) work, trying to figure out what exactly the executive producer doesn’t like about it. Sometimes producers aren’t clear. Sometimes they change their minds. Sometimes they just like to see if you’ll paint the wall puce this time instead of the mauve they were certain they liked the last time you rewrote the script. And as long as you’re rewriting, can you throw in a little dog and maybe a hunchback? Hurray for Hollywood.

But this one and I believe DIFFERENT have both aired in many foreign countries, so it’s fun to be abroad and suddenly see Patty Duke speaking French. She’s certainly mastered the language better than I have.

God’s Photo Album

God's Photo AlbumThis is a jewel of a film I’m scripting right now. It’s taken from the amazing book by Shelly Mecum called God’s Photo Album and is the story of a teacher (Shelly Mecum), in a small school on the island of Oahu. The school’s very poor and is going under, and Shelly’s determined to save it.

She sends the entire student body out in one glorious day to see things that many of them, because of poverty, have never seen. She sends them out with donated equipment-by helicopter, trolley, submarine, sailboat, train, with cameras and notebooks, and with one express task:

Find God.

And when they find Him, they’re to take His picture, and bring it back.

The school not only finds God, but the photos and comments are crafted by Shelly into a touching and powerful book, and she sells this book to Harper Collins, and this story saves the school. It also changes the children forever and lets them know that anything is possible, and that God is indeed, in us all. The idea of finding God gathers worldwide attention when Pope John Paul II encourages children all over the globe to find God in their lives, hearts, and souls.

I’m excited about this script and this project.