Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Anonymous" with a Byline - Screenwriter John Orloff interview (part 2)

As of the writing of this blog post, the Oxfordian biopic Anonymous has earned $6.9 million in international box office revenue. The movie also continues to open in staggered release in countries all over the world through the end of February. Later in 2012, of course, its extended life will begin on home video, on television, on airplane flights, in classrooms, etc. 

Despite the sometimes astonishingly vein-bulging tantrums of Oxfordian deniers, Anonymous will continue to introduce millions of people to the Shakespeare authorship mystery and to the most likely alternative "Shakespeare" candidate -- Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. 

We're grateful for Anonymous screenwriter John Orloff giving this blog an exclusive long-form interview with him about the alpha to omega of his script. (Orloff has also generously provided some of his own personal collection of photographs he took while on set with director Roland Emmerich -- during the movie's principal photography last year.) 

In part one of the "Shakespeare" by Another Name Blog's interview with Orloff, we discussed the screenwriter's own discovery of the Shakespeare authorship question courtesy of the 1989 PBS Frontline documentary The Shakespeare Mystery. Orloff ultimately wrote a screenplay about Edward de Vere and "Shakespeare," a script he originally titled Soul of the Age

Orloff had, he said, shopped it around Hollywood. And on the strength of Soul of the Age, Orloff had had meetings with Tom Hanks -- who ultimately hired Orloff to write two scripts for Hanks' co-production with Steven Spielberg, Band of Brothers

(SPOILER ALERT: This part of the interview with Orloff (part 2 of 3) begins getting into the thick of the movie's plot.)

MARK ANDERSON: Does Tom Hanks have an opinion on the authorship question?

JOHN ORLOFF: We never discussed it. My guess is he's a Stratfordian. But we never got deep into it. But Soul of the Age led to me getting a writing career and doing other work. A lot for Tom. 

MKA: Beyond Band of Brothers?

JO: Only that was produced. But I wrote about three more scripts for Tom over the years. And then meanwhile, I got a phone call from my agent saying Roland Emmerich is looking for writers for this disaster movie he's going to make about global warming. I said, "I don't know if I'm the right guy for that kind of stuff. I don't know the genre that well."

But [my agent] said, 'Yeah, but he's heard a lot about you. He really wants to meet you.' 

MKA: So this was when?

JO: This was 2002 or '03. We sat down in his office, and we talked about "Day After Tomorrow." Which sounded totally cool. But it also sounded like a movie I didn't understand as a writer. It's very outside of my wheelhouse, as they say. 

The other thing is, as a writer, I have to write things I love. And I don't know that genre as well as I should. And I said that to Roland. I said, "I'm so flattered that you think I can do this. I'm not sure I can. And I think quite frankly you can get a lot of writers who are way better than me for this kind of material." 

He said, "Well, what else have you written?" And I do what I always do, which is, I say, "Funny you should ask. Do you know anything about the Shakespeare authorship issue." And as usual there's a blank face. And I start doing my spiel, my 20 minute spiel. And I could see he was really interested. He said he wanted to read it. And about a week or two later, my agent called me up and said, "Hold on to your seat. Roland Emmerich wants to buy your script."

Which was a surprise. As it would be to anybody. Now that I know Roland, it's not a surprise at all. But not knowing Roland it seems like a surprise. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Shakespeare" with an E - The new 2011 ebook edition of "Shakespeare" By Another Name

As noted previously on this blog, on the ShakesVere Facebook boards and elsewhere, "Shakespeare" by Another Name has been updated and revised for an ebook edition

Today, I'm pleased to announce, the ebook of SBAN is now online and available for sale at ebook retailers across the Internet and around the world. The new ebook copy is also now being converted into a print-on-demand paperback that will be available for sale later this year. More announcements on that front forthcoming. 

Anyone with an ebook reader, smartphone, tablet or even just plain old PC or laptop can buy the ebook and read it on their device(s). The ebook is available in formats for all the major portable reader devices today (Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android tablets & smartphones, Google Books devices, etc.). Formats for reading the ebook on your PC/laptop reader (PDF) are also available or will soon be available, depending on the outlet. (Some sites take longer than others.) 

The central clearinghouse for all of this is the publisher's page for SBAN. As of this writing, SBAN's ebook publisher, Untreed Reads, is offering a 30% off sale -- just $5.59 for "Shakespeare" by Another Name in its new e-formats. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Anonymous" with a Byline - Screenwriter John Orloff interview (part 1)

Note: A year ago, the screenwriter John Orloff sent an email over the transom and started what has become a yearlong correspondence about his Edward de Vere biopic Anonymous (with which "Shakespeare" by Another Name is unaffiliated -- although that said, I very much enjoyed the film and hope everyone reading these words takes the opportunity to see this tremendous movie on the big screen).

When the publicity push for Anonymous was kicking into high gear, in early October, Orloff sat down for an interview for the "Shakespeare" by Another Name Blog at Orloff's office in western Massachusetts.

Orloff had already, three weeks before the movie's release, heard and read so much misrepresentation of what his movie was about and where it was coming from. In this long-form interview, Orloff wanted to help set the record straight. He also, very kindly, provided a number of his own behind-the-scenes photographs from the set of Anonymous, some of which are below.

What follows is the first part of the transcript (part 1 of 3) of our two-hour interview.

MARK ANDERSON: So let's start at the beginning. You're coming out of UCLA film school and eager to get into the film and TV industry. What happens next?

JOHN ORLOFF: What happened was 20-some-odd years ago, it was a very different film business. And it was a lot harder to get in to. Especially as a screenwriter. I first realized that I didn't have anything to write. I hadn't lived. I had nothing to say. And I was 22 years old. I had a relatively sheltered life. I lived in LA all my life. I'm actually fourth-generation film business. My great-grandparents were Fibber McGee and Molly. Jim Jordan and Marian Jordan. Their son, Jim Jordan Jr. was a TV director, and my grandmother was a B-movie actress. My father was a commercial director. And my brother's an Academy Award winning sound mixer.

In my 20s, I ended up working in advertising, because I could get work there. Just struggling to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And then I met my now-wife, who at the time was working at HBO in the long-form movie division. She would bring home these long form scripts that tended to be non-fiction based. Movies about Dorothy Dandridge, the African American Baseball League. I've always been interested in non-fiction based movies. A lot of my favorite movies are David Lean movies. I love historical films.

One thing led to another, and I started talking to my wife about the Shakespeare authorship issue, which I'd already learned about through the "Frontline" [episode on the Shakespeare Debate]. This was probably 1995. But I'd learned about the issue around 1989. Which led me to then going, "This seems true. It seems crazy that I've never heard of this." That led me to reading Ogburn's book as my first book. I was really just blown away by it. As many people are.