Judd Apatow makes me laugh. He makes a lot of people laugh. He kept the packed house at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills laughing Thursday night as he moderated the "Beyond Words" panel of WGA Award nommed screenwriters. It was a good group — Simon Beaufoy ("Slumdog Millionaire"); Lance Black ("Milk"); Tom McCarthy ("The Visitor"); Jonathan Nolan ("The Dark Knight"); and Eric Roth ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") — that reflected a range of pics.
Apatow joked at the start about not preparing for the event, but he'd clearly done a little bit of homework. He zeroed in on Roth to start, noting that the esteemed screenwriter had been a friend of Jim Morrison when they both attended UCLA in the mid-1960s.
"Can we talk about that all night," Apatow said.
Roth breezed over this interesting chapter in the L.A./rock'n'roll/Hollywood history with a dry mention of weird scenes ("I did get high with him a lot") and the observation that the Lizard King, in all his tight- leather-pants-whip-it-out-in-Miami-rock-god glory, really wanted to be a respected poet, or maybe even a screenwriter. "He wanted to be here," Roth said. (I think he meant Morrison would've loved being in a setting that conferred on him the status of being a really good writer.)
Apatow then warned McCarthy that the only thing he was more interested in than Jim Morrison stories was behind the scenes tales of "The Wire." (McCarthy co-starred as a really craven character — a corrupt newspaper reporter — in the HBO drama's final season last year. He shredded in the role. I loved HATING him.)
"So, what role as an actor pissed you off so much that you decided to write," Apatow asked, zeroing in on the heart of the question, no matter how delicately phrased, that is always asked of actors who decide to write or direct, or do both in the case of the multi-talented McCarthy.
(Pictured above, from left: Eric Roth, Lance Black, Judd Apatow, Jonathan Nolan, Tom McCarthy and Simon Beaufoy.)