Review: ‘Tales From Development Hell: Hollywood Film-Making the Hard Way’

A perfect read for screenwriters in need of a touch of <I>schadenfreude</I>, David Hughes' book traces the long and winding road for films both made and unmade, such as Lee and Janet Scott Batchler's "Smoke and Mirrors" and early attempts at "The Lord of the Rings" (starting with Forrest Ackerman in 1957).

A perfect read for screenwriters in need of a touch of schadenfreude, David Hughes’ book traces the long and winding road for films both made and unmade, such as Lee and Janet Scott Batchler’s “Smoke and Mirrors” and early attempts at “The Lord of the Rings” (starting with Forrest Ackerman in 1957).

Hughes touches on just about everything that can keep a promising script down, from endless rewrites to suit ever-changing stars, to location shoots derailed by 9/11.

Hughes obviously has done his homework, tracking projects over many years and talking to numerous participants. However, he can be a bit flip, as in this reference to the “Planet of the Apes” remake: “Several events occurred in rapid succession: (Oliver) Stone went off to pursue projects of his own; Tom Rothman replaced Tom Jacobson as head of production; a drunken Dylan Sellers crashed his car, killing a much-loved colleague and earning himself jail time; and (Don) Murphy and (Jane) Hamsher were paid off.”

However, varied subjects and insider perspectives make this a valuable read for those interested in the moviemaking process.

Tales From Development Hell: Hollywood Film-Making the Hard Way

Titan, 256 pgs., $14.95

Production

David Hughes

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