Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Making Of...

 I've posted before about the troubled post-production of Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret, which arrives on Blu-Ray in July. This piece recounts the drama again, complete with cameo appearances by Martin Scorsese and a co-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. What makes the reading worth your time is the portrait that emerges of Lonergan, an exacting but generous artist who inspires great loyalty in friends and collaborators. I can't wait to see Margaret. (NYT)
Lonergan’s history with Hollywood began, oddly enough, when, as a promising but unknown playwright, he made a very cleareyed, even craven, business decision — which wound up paying off very well. In his mid-20s, he wrote a screenplay that would eventually become the mafia comedy “Analyze This,” a film which, to this day, he has never seen. “I wrote it to sell it,” he says now. “I knew what that meant.” The film went through nearly a dozen different screenwriters before finally being released and spawning a successful franchise. “I was aware that it was very likely that it would be rewritten to death by others, which isn’t something I’m comfortable having done to work I’ve written for love, as opposed to for money,” he says. “And while I make a living off that system, I disapprove of it, and I don’t take any pride of authorship in something that’s been rewritten by 14 other people.”

One happy byproduct of that script was that he met Martin Scorsese, who would later bring Lonergan to Rome just before shooting to work on the script for “Gangs of New York.” Another happy byproduct is that the money Lonergan earned bought him time to write “This Is Our Youth,” a 1996 Off Broadway hit that starred two unknown actors, Josh Hamilton and Mark Ruffalo. As described in the Times review, the play is about “the desolate, dead-end universe of young Manhattanites with rich parents and no direction. They are at that peculiar moment of life, their late teens and early 20s, when dissoluteness has not yet calcified into hopelessness.” In other words, it’s the kind of play that might stamp a young playwright, which it more or less did for Lonergan, with the label “voice of his generation.”

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