Jones & McCormack: Duo mine reality for laughs

10 Screenwriters to Watch

Travis Beacham | Sheila Callaghan | Adam Cozad | Michael Diliberti | Tim Dowling | Lena Dunham | Seth Grahame-Smith | Mike Jones | Jones & McCormack | Simons & Schoolcraft

Actors Rashida Jones and Will McCormack met in the late 1990s, dated for two weeks, then realized they’d make better writers than lovers. Their working relationship bore fruit after they both moved from New York to L.A. “It took more time to mature into writing,” says McCormack, who appeared on “The Sopranos.” “And you actually have something to write about,” adds Jones, known for her roles on TV’s “The Office” and in “Parks and Recreation.”

They also learned their craft from reading so many screenplays as actors. “Eventually, you become supercritical,” says McCormack. Thinking they could do it just as well, the duo wrote “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” “an antithetical romantic comedy,” according to Jones, which made the Black List. Jennifer Todd, a producer on “Celeste and Jesse,” says the duo’s acting skills allow them to create characters “that are complex and complicated. They also have very fresh voices.”

“Their dialogue seems so real and somehow timely and classic at the same time.”

Based on the strong buzz around “Celeste and Jesse,” Working Title’s Eric Fellner hired them to write another tale of a thorny relationship, “Getting There,” which they describe as “Planes, Trains and Automobile” meets “When Harry Met Sally.”

For Imagine and Universal, they’re also writing “Frenemy of the State,” a comedic action thriller based on Jones’ comicbook series about a female CIA agent. Jones says the project stemmed from her frustration with the parts she was being offered. “If there’s any niche we want to create, it’s writing for girls and women,” adds McCormack. “I love the (Judd) Apatow design, but I believe there needs to be a woman’s point of view.”


Age: Jones, 34; McCormack 37
Provenance: Jones, Los Angeles; McCormack, Plainfield, NJ
Inspiration: “When Harry Met Sally,” “Broadcast News,” “Annie Hall,” “Before Sunset”; “Comedy,” says McCormack, “usually comes from a lot of pain.”
Reps: Sarah Clossey and Keya Khayatian (UTA), Andrea-Pett Joseph (Brillstein Entertainment); James Adams (Schreck Rose Dapello Adams & Hurwitz); Erik Hyman (Loeb and Loeb)

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