Michael Starrbury Despite being one of the buzzier titles at Sundance, »The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete«, about two Brooklyn kids [Skylan Brooks and Ethan Dizon] who leave their drug-addicted mothers to set up for themselves, is yet to land U.S. distribution. But whatever happens to it, the film certainly seems to have served as something of a calling card for screenwriter Michael Starrbury. Starrbury broke through with his Black Listed script »Watch Roger Do His Thing«, about a retired hitman, and after that, penned a Comedy Central pilot called »Black Jack«, which starred Ving Rhames, and was directed by David Gordon Green, and yet somehow failed to get picked up [we’d give our left arm to see that one...], while a half-hour comedy for ABC produced by Peter Tolan [»Rescue Me«] also failed to progress. But he got a lot of attention in Park City this year for »Mister and Pete«, which also stars Jeffrey Wright, Anthony Mackie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks, and drew comparisons to »The Wire« and »Precious.« Beyond that, he’s got two big studio pictures in the works: »The Great Unknown«, a comic book adaptation for »MacGruber« director Jorma Taccone, and actioner »Fully Automatic« at Warner Bros. And he just landed the plum gig of rewriting the Tupac Shakur biopic off the back of the notices for »Mister & Pete.« He seems to have pretty diverse skills, leaping from comedy to action to drama, and we suspect thatwe’re only just starting to scratch the surface of his success.
If you’re familiar with any of these guys, it’s probably Chris Terrio, seeing as he just won an Oscar about four weeks back for his work on Ben Affleck’s »Argo.« But the 36-year-old Harvard grad is still a relative newcomer, and is yet one of the most soughtafter writers around, so we’d be fools not to include him here. Terrio started out as an assistant for James Ivory, of Merchant Ivory fame, before winning some acclaim by directing and writing the short »Book Of Kings.« This led him to financing for his feature directorial debut, »Heights«, which rode an impressive cast [including Glenn Close, Isabella Rosselini, George Segal, James Marsden, Elizabeth Banks and Rufus Wainwright] to a Sundance premiere in 2005. The film [based on Amy Fox’s play] picked up decent notices, but was mostly ignored on release, but nevertheless, it managed to get Terrio more screenwriting work, even though he’d only contributed additional material to »Heights« [making »Argo« his first proper screenwriting credit]. Terrio’s subsequent work included a version of »Richard II« at Merchant Ivory that Jude Law circled for a while, but Terrio finally got his big break after getting the »Argo« gig, the script landing on the Black List as a result. And in the two years between then and the film reaching the screen, the writer’s been unfathomably busy. He penned a remake of French thriller »Tell No One« for Affleck, has a spy thriller called »Weather Service« in development, and took on another true-life tale with »A Murder Foretold«, based on the murder of a man in Guatemala, who left behind a videotape implicating the country’s president in the death. There’s lots more on the way, too.
Jack Thorne Jack Thorne is someone who’s been bubbling under for a little while, coming on our radars quite a few years back, but has exploded into activity in the last year or so with several projects set to hit between now and the end of 2014. Thorne started off as a playwright, and after some time with the Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writers Programme, debuted his breakthrough play »When You Cure Me« at the Bush Theatre in London in 2005 [other ones have followed, including »Fanny and Faggot«, »Bunny«, »2 May 1997« and,most recently, a new version of »The Physicists«]. This brought him to the attention of Brian Eisley, who
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Chris McCoy, who was hired for the project more recently, is more likely to be bringing the funny. McCoy is a Black List staple who’s had a number of high-concept comedies in development in recent years. There’s »Get Back«, about time-travelling Beatles fans who try to stop Yoko from breaking up the band, with »Burt Wonderstone« helmer Don Scardino directing, »Good Looking«, an »Eternal Sunshine«-ish rom-com with Alison Brie attached, and comedy-drama »Year Abroad.« He’s also got a coming-of-age script called »Good Kids« that he’s set to direct himself, and animation »Little White Lie«, which Jan Pinkava was set to make at »ParaNorman« backers Laika at one point. Last summer, he sold a fairy-tale-themed rom-com to Disney, which helped him land the »Guardians‘ gig [while Perlman’s also continuing to work with the studio, having sold original sci-fi pitch »Terra Incognita« last year.]