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Category: Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin set to adapt 'Steve Jobs' for Sony

May 15, 2012 |  6:56 pm

Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin once declined an offer from Steve Jobs to write a movie for animation house Pixar, saying he couldn't pen dialogue for inanimate objects. Now, however, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "The Social Network" will aim to help bring the life of the legendary tech icon to the screen in a film for Sony Pictures that will reunite him with his "Social Network" producer Scott Rudin.

"Steve Jobs" will be based on the bestselling biography written by former Time magazine managing editor Walter Isaacson. Mark Gordon and Guymon Casady will also produce.

Sorkin, awaiting his cable television debut with the HBO series "The Newsroom," famously depicted the world of Silicon valley with his Academy Award-winning script about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. His biggest challenge in adapting Isaacson's book will likely be reducing the sprawling biography into a digestible narrative.

Jobs, the Apple tycoon who died last year from cancer, is also the subject of another film simply titled "Jobs" that will star Ashton Kutcher in the title role. No word on who will play the lead in the Sorkin-scripted film or who will direct.


L.A. Film Fest to show premiere of Aaron Sorkin's 'The Newsroom'

— Nicole Sperling

Photo: Aaron Sorkin. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.

L.A. Film Fest to show premiere of Aaron Sorkin's 'The Newsroom'

May 15, 2012 | 11:21 am

Aaron sorkin
The L.A. Film Festival is dabbling in television this year, showcasing two programs: AMC's "Breaking Bad" and HBO's "The Newsroom."

The festival will screen the premiere episode of Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin's new series, "The Newsroom," on June 22, along with a panel discussion with Sorkin, executive producer Alan Poul and director Greg Mottola. The three will discuss what it took to develop the show -- a  behind-the-scenes look at the intricacies of the fast-paced 24-hour cable news world -- and assemble the cast, which includes Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer and Sam Waterson.

Sorkin, who won an Academy Award for his script for "The Social Network" and was behind the long-running TV show "The West Wing," is writer and executive producer of "The Newsroom."

To celebrate the last 16 episodes of "Breaking Bad," the festival will host a discussion June 16 with series creator Vince Gilligan, and stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn. 


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-- Julie Makinen

Photo: Aaron Sorkin at the 68th annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 16, 2011. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times.

Oscars 2012: 'The Descendants' wins for adapted screenplay

February 26, 2012 |  7:27 pm

The Descendants
"The Descendants" writers Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash won the Oscar for adapted screenplay at the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday night.

The film stars George Clooney as an embattled father of two who learns that his comatose wife has been cheating on him. Payne, Faxon and Rash based the screenplay on Kaui Hart Hemmings' novel.

The film also won the Writers Guild of America award for adapted screenplay and two Golden Globe awards (lead actor for Clooney and best picture in the drama category). Payne, who also directed and produced the Hawaii-set film, previously won a directing Oscar for the film "Sideways."

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"The Descendants" writers beat out "Hugo" writer John Logan; "The Ides of March" writers George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon; "Moneyball" writers Steven Zaillian, Stan Chervin and last year's champ Aaron Sorkin; and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" writers Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan.

The Academy Awards are taking place in Hollywood and are being televised live on ABC. They are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose membership was recently examined in depth by the Los Angeles Times.

For more Oscars breaking news and analysis, check back on 24 Frames.


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— Nardine Saad

Photo: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley and Nick Krause in "The Descendants." Credit: Fox Searchlight.

Will Aaron Sorkin take on Steve Jobs?

October 24, 2011 |  4:44 pm


EXCLUSIVE: Steve Jobs was front and center again Sunday night when "60 Minutes" aired its much-anticipated interview with his biographer, Walter Isaacson. It proably won't be the last time the Apple co-founder will dominate our screens.

Sony is moving forward with a Steve Jobs movie based on Isaacson's book. And one of the writers being courted by producers to pen his story, according to a person who was briefed on the project but not authorized to speak about it publicly, is Aaron Sorkin, Hollywood's chronicler-in-chief of the complicated visionary.

The "Moneyball" and "Social Network" writer was said by the person to be considering the prospect but had made no decisions. Sony and a Sorkin representative declined to comment on the writer's potential involvement.

Would the writer be a good fit for the story of the Apple leader, which is being produced by "Saving Private Ryan" producer Mark Gordon and the Hollywood management and producing mainstay Management 360?

Sorkin is known for penning stories about the lives of fiercely smart, if difficult, figures, of which Jobs certainly was one. Isaacson's take on the late executive as someone whose penchant for "magical thinking" was both a great advantage and a fatal liability seems particularly suited to a Sorkin script, as does the detail about Jobs' biological father, whom he met unwittingly at a Silicon Valley restaurant.

Of course, Sorkin could feel like he's already been done the Silicon Valley thing with "Social Network." And Sorkin did know Jobs, which could make things a bit sticky. In fact, it's rare for a biopic to cover someone who so recently died, which could create a challenge for any writer.

On the other hand, the tech pioneer had once asked Sorkin to write a Pixar movie. Sorkin declined, saying he couldn't "make inanimate objects talk." But writing a movie about the man behind Pixar might serve as a certain kind of tribute.

Whoever winds up penning it, there's clearly an appetite among the viewing public for Jobs' story, especially as told by Isaacson: Sunday night's edition of "60 Minutes" was up an impressive 47% in the coveted 18-49 demographic compared to the previous week.


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-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Images of Steve Jobs at an Apple store. Credit: Christian Palma/Associated Press

Brad Pitt's 'Moneyball' swings for the fences [Trailer]

June 16, 2011 |  9:48 pm

It’s hard to imagine a contemporary sports movie packing in more than the usual cliches about a fighting spirit -- almost as hard as it is to imagine Michael Lewis’ idea-heavy "Moneyball"  becoming a movie in the first place –- but the trailer for Brad Pitt's September film manages to upend both preconceptions.

The piece, which hit the Web on Thursday, begins with a bit of "Bad News Bears" familiarity, as Pitt's Billy Beane, of course the Oakland A's general manager, tries to win by fielding a group of misfits. But once that's out of the way it buckles down to the more interesting dramatic subject of a man trying to change a system while carrying no small amount of doubt himself, rendering visual the story Lewis told in the Beane plot line of his 2003 nonfiction bestseller.

In between, it flashes just enough numbers and spreadsheets to imply that Lewis' ideas about sabermetrics aren't entirely forgotten, while also suggesting that Beane's confidence -- and his clashes with the baseball-scout old guard -- provide some humor.

"If we win with this team, we’ll have changed the game," Pitt’s character says. It's of course far too early to say whether the movie will be a game-changer in the Hollywood sense of the term. It certainly has the team –- which, in addition to Pitt includes writers Steven Zallian and Aaron Sorkin, a (refreshingly less jocular) Jonah Hill and director Bennett Miller, handpicked by Pitt because of his feature debut, "Capote."

And while there's always the question with a movie like this of whether the stakes can match the drama –- it is just about a baseball game, after all -- the trailer contains plenty of hints that Miller reaches base safely, and then some, with his first film in six years.


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-- Steven Zeitchik



'Easy A' director Will Gluck in talks to adapt Ben Mezrich's new book 'Sex on the Moon'

March 23, 2011 |  3:35 pm


EXCLUSIVE: Writer-director Will Gluck is currently putting finishing touches on his upcoming summer comedy "Friends with Benefits," a romantic comedy pairing Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis as pals who attempt to add a new dimension to their relationship due out July 22. But he's already looking beyond that film to a new feature -- Gluck is in talks with Sony Pictures and its team from "The Social Network" to develop and direct author Ben Mezrich's new book "Sex on the Moon," according to sources close to the film who declined to be identified.

The project would cement a burgeoning relationship between the studio and Gluck, who was behind 2010's $8-million comedy "Easy A" starring Emma Stone that became a $74-million worldwide hit; Sony is also releasing "Friends With Benefits."

"Sex on the Moon" would be a bit of a departure for Gluck, who began his career in television. The project tracks the wild escapades of 25-year-old NASA intern Thad Roberts, who in an effort to impress a girl orchestrated a plan to steal lunar rocks from the Johnson Space Center and sell them on the Internet. Mezrich, who wrote "The Accidental Billionaires," the book Aaron Sorkin adapted for the Academy Award-nominated film "The Social Network," will debut "Sex on the Moon" on July 12.

The studio purchased the rights to the project earlier this year and will collaborate with the producers behind "The Social Network": Scott Rudin, Michael DeLuca, Dana Brunetti and executive producer Kevin Spacey.

To read more on Roberts adventures before to the debut of Mezrich's book, check out the Los Angeles Times' story from 2004 that chronicled his escapades.

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: "Easy A." Credit: Sony

Oscar speeches: navel-gazing or proper thanks?

February 28, 2011 |  2:08 pm

Every year, Oscar nominees are admonished: If you win, make your acceptance speech memorable. Few, though, seem to be listening.

At the luncheon for Academy Award nominees held annually a few weeks before the show, the broadcast’s producers deliver the message. You’re facing a global audience of millions, they advise, so think very carefully about what you want to say. Don’t recite a list of people no one outside of Hollywood has heard of.

"Reading a long list of names only shows us your bald spot," Tom Hanks said in a video filled with bad speeches shown at this year’s luncheon. Oscar producer Don Mischer even cautioned that whenever a winner unfurls a piece of paper, hundreds of thousands of viewers tune out of the show.

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Colleen Atwood, who won the costume design Oscar for “Alice in Wonderland,” was at the luncheon, but didn’t seem to heed the warning Sunday night, pulling out a long roster of people to thank.

A number of winners acknowledged parents, children and significant others. But the 2011 broadcast was also notable for how many people thanked their agents, managers and publicists — who of course are paid richly to promote their clients’ careers. 

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Some may blame hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway for the show’s ratings, which according to early projections were off 7% from a year ago. But perhaps there’s another reason: No one in America knows — or cares — who an actor’s agent is.

Some excerpts of the inside-Hollywood thank-yous from Sunday’s winners:

Natalie Portman, lead actress for “Black Swan”: “…I want to thank my team who works with me every day. Aleen Keshishian, my manager, for 18 years and my agents Kevin Huvane and everyone at CAA. Bryna and Tamar at ID, my friends who are everything to me no matter what's going on in my career.”

Aaron Sorkin, adapted screenplay for “The Social Network”: “There are a lot of people who've worked hard in my corner for a long time, it seems like the right moment to thank them. My assistant Lauren Lohman, my researcher, Ian Reichbach, my long suffering press rep, Joy Fehily, and all the women of Prime, Rich Heller, Bill Tanner, Andy Forshay, my agents Ari Emanuel and Jason Spitz who never blow my cover and reveal that I would happily do this for free….”

Christian Bale, supporting actor for “The Fighter”: “…My team, led by Patrick and Boomer and Carlos and Jen and Anna and Julie, thank you so much for everything that you do.”

--John Horn

Photo of Natalie Portman at the 83rd Academy Awards. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times


Oscars: Aaron Sorkin says after Egypt, he's come around on Facebook

February 27, 2011 |  8:19 pm

Sorkintimber Maybe Facebook is useful after all. That was the message at the Oscars from "The Social Network" scribe Aaron Sorkin, who this season was quoted numerous times as saying he doesn't use Facebook and doesn't know much about it, despite writing a film about its founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

"I've been cranky about the Internet," Sorkin told reporters backstage at the Academy Awards after winning the prize for adapted screenplay. "Somewhere along the way I've turned into my grandfather. And I've got some good reasons. But when you see what happened in Cairo and other examples of social-network tools mobilizing people for great causes, you want to thank the Mark Zuckerbergs that are out there for doing that." (Facebook was used by some key organizers of the Egyptian uprising that ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak.)

Sorkin has in the past compared Facebook to a carburetor -- he has said he knows it's in there but "wouldn't know the first thing about finding it."

But Sorkin also says that writing a movie like this has upped the ante for him personally. "I'll be very candid with you. Since the movie came out and got the cultural and critical reaction, I've been hyper-aware the thing I write next is the movie I write after 'The Social Network.' "

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Aaron Sorkin, left, embraces "Social Network" actor Justin Timberlake as they arrive for the Academy Awards. Credit: Andrew Gombert/EPA

Aaron Sorkin: Not hitting 'like' on Sarah Palin

October 4, 2010 |  7:21 pm

The Week 2 campaign to get more of Middle America interested in "The Social Network" is off to a flying start.

Aaron Sorkin, never reticent on matters of politics, wandered into an ideological thicket on CNN's new "Parker Spitzer" show Monday. According to several accounts of the telecast, the show, on which guests had been discussing Sarah Palin, had the left-leaning Sorkin dissing the former VP candidate in words that make his Mark Zuckerberg depiction look like hagiography.

According to several accounts, the "West Wing" creator told hosts that "Sarah Palin is an idiot. A remarkably, stunningly, jaw-droppingly incompetent, mean woman." Sorkin also reportedly said that "the Democrats have moved to the center, but the Republicans have moved into a mental institution. So I’ll take the Democrats."

"The Social Network" was always sold on story and performance, not message. Still, if you want to persuade a certain segment of a certain working-class audience that this movie about rich Harvard kids is for them, having its writer dis a grassroots favorite might not be the way to do it. Good thing Sony has strong publicists. No embed code, but you can watch Sorkin's Spitzer video here.

[Update, 11:24 p.m. We caught up with the full segment, and Sorkin doesn't mince words. What he does do is acknowledge that his opinions may not serve the movie's publicity aims. He kicked off his comments with a disclaimer. "'The Social Network' has absolutely no politics at all. No one has to agree with anything that I'm saying in order to see this movie," he said, before continuing immediately with "But Sarah Palin is an idiot. Come on."

Then he acknowledged jokingly -- or was it? -- that he may be shooting his movie in the foot. "The senior people at Sony are just killing me for what I'm saying," he said as he wrapped up his interview. "I actually went on TV and lost ticket-buyers."]

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Aaron Sorkin at the DGA New Yorker festival on October 1 in New York City. Credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images


Did the facts behind 'The Social Network' hurt it at the box office?

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Did the facts behind 'The Social Network' hurt it at the box office?

October 4, 2010 |  9:30 am

Like Jon Stewart vs. Bill O'Reilly, or Mark Sanchez vs.Ryan Fitzpatrick, stacking up a true story against a fictional one isn't exactly a fair fight.

True tales hold an innate advantage. Tell audiences you're depicting an event that at least roughly parallels how it really happened, and it changes everything. Ordinary dramas are turbocharged into extraordinary ones. Flaws and pockmarks that would be called out in a fictional narrative are papered over and forgiven. For most of us, the idea that a movie's events played out that way in real life allows a shaky premise to be let off the hook; if it all really happened, we think, how can we hold a movie responsible for contrivances or leaps?

And true stories allow us to be more impressed by a film's texture and performances, which may be why five of the past six best actor Oscar winners were playing real people, or at least characters inspired by real people.

That principle should have helped "The Social Network" exceed all expectations this weekend.

As anyone within smelling distance of a television or Web site has learned  over the past few weeks, the David Fincher movie isn't just about a few ambitious young people taking on the world and each other -- it's a part of our recent past that, details about technical accuracy aside, has in turn helped shape our faraway future.

Wherever you looked, you couldn't escape the movie's truth, or at least its truthiness. Writer Aaron Sorkin went on talk shows to discuss the competing vantage points he merged to tell the story.  There was the daily saga of whether Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg would himself see the movie (he was spotted in a Seattle screening! he rented out a theater for Facebook employees!), that seemed to underline, eerily and in real time, the same narcissism he displayed on the screen.

And if the marketing campaign's invocation of memes from the site didn't remind us that this all was happening in more than a fictional world, the very fact that millions of us log in to Facebook every day accomplished the trick for us. (That Facebook's corporate representatives questioned the authenticity of the account only made the film seem all the more hard-hitting and, well, truthful.)

All this should have taken an already tantalizing story and compelled us to see it even more. Yet when the movie opened this weekend, that's not what happened. With $23 million in domestic box office, The film performed respectably. But it fell short of some predictions that had its opening-weekend total closer to $30 million. Instead, its $23 million was in line with other more fictional and farfetched dramas this fall, such as "The Town," which tallied $23.8 million in its first weekend, almost exactly the same box office figure as "The Social Network." The but-much-of-this-is-real factor seemed to have little favorable effect on the film.

There's no way to determine this precisely, of course, to test how "The Social Network" would have performed if there were no shades of real life in it -- if it were, say, just an older- and more male-skewing "Gossip Girl" with A-list film credentials.  What we do know is the movie played well on the coasts, where an awareness of the media is practically in the drinking water, and where the film almost certainly benefited from the publicity that came from its parallels to real-life events.

It didn't play as well elsewhere, which suggests that any benefits accrued from the movie telling a real-life tale might have been counteracted by the perception of the film as a story of a group of real-life rich Harvard kids fighting over credit.

In this way, it might have been better off it was about a site we didn't know as well, or one that didn't exist at all. Tell people that the events of most Hollywood movies happened that way in actuality and their eyes snap open. But remind them of a real-life company founded by elites, in an elite place, and you may not grab their attention in quite the same way. In fact, you just might push them away.

If the real-world echoes did have a mixed effect on the performance of "The Social Network," it contains a certain irony. Since the film's publicity campaign began, the filmmakers and the cast  have attempted mightily to explain that, even though some contested this version of events, it all well could have been true. This probably answered some journalists' questions. But when it comes to attracting moviegoers, sometimes, it seems, there may be truths worth avoiding.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: The Social Network. Credit: Sony Pictures


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