Universal might need an extra-long one-sheet for its big summer pic “The Flintstones,” which stars John Goodman. And don’t be surprised if the credits stretch to 10 minutes. All because more screenwriters had a hand in shaping the script than there are residents of Bedrock, the Stone Age community that’s home to FredFlintstone and Barney Rubble.A startling 35 scribes either turned in drafts, treatments or otherwise took part in a significant way in the Amblin project. The Writers Guild is doing an arbitration of screen credits, with Universal tentatively expecting to give story credit to Michael Wilson, and screenplay credit to Brian Levant (also director), Al Aidekman, Cindy Begel, Lloyd Garver, David Silverman, Stephen Sustarsic, Nancy Steen and Neil Thompson. While nine names might seem excessive, that merely scratches the surface: It seems almost as many people participated in the writing of “The Flintstones” as signed the Declaration of Independence. A detailed breakdown of who did what provides a glimpse into how tortured the creative process was in turning a cartoon into a viable big-budget feature film. Ancient origins Let’s start with the project’s prehistoric origins: A 123-page draft was turned in by Steven deSouza in September 1987. Next, a 107-page draft was offered by Daniel Goldin and Joshua Goldin on Oct. 20, 1989. Peter Martin Wortmann and Robert Conte then took a crack at the job, turning in a 119-page draft on March 20, 1990. On Oct. 20, 1990, Mitch Markowitz presented his 124 -page draft. And on July 1, 1991, a 116-page draft was finished by Jeffrey Reno and Ron Osbourne, who revised it and cut it to 107 pages on May 2, 1992. But these early drafts became as extinct as the velociraptor once Michael Wilson submitted a four-page story, which officially became the basis for the film on June 17, 1992. He added three pages of notations on Sept. 29, 1992, and then the real “Flintstones” employment program for screenwriters began. Armed with the Wilson story idea, an 111-page draft of “The Flintstones” was done by Tom S. Parker and Jim Jennewein on Sept. 14, 1992; a second draft by the same writers followed on Oct. 16. Next, a meeting for ideas was held among Brian Levant, Bruce Cohen, Jason Hoffs and Kate Barker, with their notes given to Gary Ross (of “Big”), who put the finishing touches on his 121-page draft on Jan. 11, 1993. They called in the troops for the final assault: A 116-page draft was turned in Feb. 3 by Levant, Nancy Steen, Neil Thompson, Al Aidekman, David Silverman, Stephen Sustarsic, Lloyd Garver and Cindy Begel; a revised script of 114 pages dates from March 30 by Levant, Aidekman, Garver and Rob Dames, Lenny Ripps, Fred Fox Jr. and Dava Savel; another revision turned in on April 26 was credited to Levant, Steen, Thompson, Silverman and Sustarsic, and “Flintstones” rookies Lon Diamond, David Richardson and Roy Teicher. More, more, more Still another revision — by old hands Levant, Steen, Thompson, Silverman, Sustarsic, Garver and Aidekman — landed May 3. And another, by Levant, Garver, Richard Gurman, Michael J. Digaetano and Ruth Bennett was turned in May 10. As if that weren’t enough, Levant did a draft with the hot “City Slickers” duo of Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel on May 21. Levant took it from there, making changes another eight times before a shooting script was registered on Aug. 7. Though sources had recollections of as many as 20 writers trying to find a fresh concept for “Godfather III,” no one contacted last week could remember a film on which so many writers participated. Universal hopes the picture will pick up at the box office where “Jurassic Park” left off. It had better, if only to cover script development costs.
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