Ross talks about 'Seabiscuit's' feel

“Seabiscuit” scribe-helmer Gary Ross responded to critics of his adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling book during last week’s Times Talks “Book to Screen” panel, saying, “What can I do except follow the movie I want to make?”

Ross explained the David McCullough voiceovers to Depression-era footage, saying he wanted to “jar the audience out of the lull of a fictional narrative” and “make that (era) viscerally real for an audience that doesn’t know or remember the Depression,” helping them understand that “this wasn’t a story about a horse, this is a story about people.”

Oft-adapted novelist Elmore Leonard kept the evening light with quips like: “I said to my agent, ‘I don’t think ninety-five percent of (screenwriters) know how to write. He said ‘Ninety-nine.'”

Other panelists at the MoMA sesh moderated by Janet Maslin included helmer James Ivory and thesp Ben Kingsley, who stars in the upcoming adaptation “House of Sand and Fog.”

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