How to Write for Hollywood Without Ever Leaving New York

Yeppers, here it is, the answer to the question you’ve all been asking.

Well, all of you who live in NY and see no damn reason to, you know, move.

Proceed with caution – cuz the following info does indeed work…if you’re already a famous playwright!

nyplaywrightswriteby Seth Abramovitch

What happens when you put four New York-based theater greats (who also write for Hollywood) in a room and ask them to dish about the differences between the two cultures? A lot of smart conversation, not all of it precisely on point. But that’s no surprise, considering the far-ranging brainpower of the scribes: Tony Kushner, the dramatist behind Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln andAngels in America (both the 1993 play and the 2003 HBO miniseries); John Patrick Shanley, who wrote 1987’s Moonstruck and the play and screenplay for 2008’s Doubt, which he directed; House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, who wrote the play Farragut North (2008) and the movie optioned from it, The Ides of March (2011); and Suzan-Lori Parks, who won a Pulitzer for 2001’sTopdog/Underdog and has written projects for Oprah Winfrey, Jodie Foster, Brad Pitt and Spike Lee. They discuss the highs, lows and culture shocks between New York’s theater world and Hollywood.

Their First Time

TONY KUSHNER I went to L.A. when [director] Gordon Davidson wanted to meet about Angels in America. I thought it was one of the weirdest places I’d ever been. I loved Venice, Santa Monica and thought downtown L.A. was extremely interesting and strange. I stayed at the Marina Pacifica hotel, and there were all these bodybuilders and weight lifters.

SUZAN-LORI PARKS I remember getting off the plane and seeing that thing [Encounter, theJetsons-style restaurant] at LAX. It was as if I’d landed on another planet. It was the first time I’d ridden in first class on a plane because a studio was paying for it. I was really nervous because I was the only black person in first class. I’m standing there trying to look like I know what I’m doing. I thought, “Oh, I wish another black person would be in first class,” and Denzel Washingtonwalks on the plane.

JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY I had written a screenplay called Five Corners, and Tony Bill [The Stingproducer] optioned it for five grand. He asked me to come out to Los Angeles to work on the script a bit. But actually, it was just so I could make friends with Los Angeles. He met me at the airport in a vintage sports car. He took me to all the hottest restaurants and introduced me to all the chefs. While we were eating fantastic appetizers at a French-Vietnamese restaurant, he said, “If it’s OK with you, I was hoping to take you on my yacht to Catalina for abalone.” I ended up on a yacht the following morning.

BEAU WILLIMON We sent out Farragut North as a writing sample. I got that Cinderella call: Warner Bros. wanted to option it for a movie. They were talking about George Clooney and Leo DiCaprio producing. It was all ass-backwards! At that moment, it was a hot item, and I had something like 70 or 80 meetings in a couple of weeks and went from complete soul-crushing obscurity to a lot of people telling me they loved my work. I got my pinky toe in the door and kept jamming that foot and leg and the rest of myself in ever since.

Read it all at Hollywood Reporter