×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bob Nelson

10 Screenwriters to Watch

“Witty, dry, understated comedy is a rarity,” says producer Ron Yerxa. “It’s just really hard to pull off.” And it’s exactly this kind of writing that drew Yerxa and his Bona Fide Prods. partner Albert Berger to Bob Nelson’s work. “Nelson’s a true craftsman,” Yerxa continues. “He’s got all the comedic qualities of someone like Jim Jarmusch without the obscurity.”

For Nelson, much of that craft was honed during the decade he spent working on Seattle-based sketch comedy show “Almost Live!” It was there that he turned his early childhood love of Bob Newhart, Woody Allen and Billy Wilder into his own brand of humor. “Wilder really impressed me,” says Nelson. “Both he and Hitchcock found a way to make very, very good films with a broad appeal.”

It was also through “Almost Live!” that he met Bill Nye (who developed his Science Guy persona for that show). Through a roundabout series of steps, it was Nye who helped launch the scribe’s bigscreen career. He got Nelson’s spec “Nebraska,” about a son who takes a roadtrip with his sweepstakes-obsessed alcoholic father, to Yerxa. “I still have relatives in Nebraska, so it’s the most personal of my scripts,” Nelson notes.

Nebraska native Alexander Payne has signed on to direct the project. Nelson, who can’t believe his luck, admits he’s still saving a recorded message on his answering machine from Payne, “So I have something to laugh about, if all of this blows up in my face.”

Meanwhile, Dean Parisot is set to direct another Nelson script, “A Bill From My Father,” which is based on a “This American Life” segment by Bernard Cooper about a son who receives a tab from his father for the cost of his upbringing.

And Nelson has also met with Steven Spielberg about producing an English-language remake that Nelson wrote of Patrice LeConte’s Gallic pic “Intimate Strangers.” “The meeting was pretty surreal,” he marvels. “Spielberg was great and down-to-earth.”

Currently, he’s at work on another spec script, this one about lost love, and is still trying “find a way to work in TV, which was my original goal.”

VITAL STATS

Age: 49

Birthplace: Yankton, South Dakota

Inspired by: “Sketch comedy with lots of character-driven subtlety,” says Nelson, “and films like ‘Citizen Kane’ and ‘You Can Count on Me.’ ”

Favorite unmade script: “Yearbook,” about a guy who returns to his hometown at age 30 and gets a second chance with the girl of his childhood dreams.

Reps: Agents, Todd Hoffman and Sophy Holodnik (Broder); attorney Bob Myman (Myman, Abell, Fineman, Fox, Greenspan and Light)

More Film

  • Inside Amazon's New Feature Film Strategy

    Amazon's New Film Strategy: Straight-to-Service Titles and Starry Sundance Buys

    It was close to midnight when Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke got the text. The company had failed in its quest to acquire “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” a body image dramedy that captivated Salke when she saw it at Sundance. A sales agent on the project messaged her to say that a competitor offered a [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron71st Annual Writers Guild Awards,

    Alfonso Cuarón on Academy's 'Inevitable' Reversal on Televised Oscar Categories

    Alfonso Cuarón isn’t exactly surprised that the Academy reversed its decision and will now air all the Oscar categories during the live show on Sunday. Feb. 24. Calling the decision “inevitable,”Cuarón tells Variety that he thinks the Academy should take things even further. “Let’s stop calling them technical categories!” he told Variety on Sunday night [...]

  • TorinoFilmLab Announces Selections for 2019 ScriptLab

    TorinoFilmLab Announces Selections for 2019 ScriptLab (EXCLUSIVE)

    The TorinoFilmLab has announced the 20 feature projects and five story editor trainees who have been selected to take part in the 2019 edition of ScriptLab, an initiative focused on the development of fiction feature film scripts in early development stage. Beginning in March, this year’s participants will team up with filmmakers from around the [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    North American Box Office Declines From Last Year With Weak Presidents Day Weekend

    “Alita: Battle Angel” easily won a tepid Presidents Day weekend with a $34.2 million at 3,790 North American locations, estimates showed Monday. Overall domestic moviegoing for 2019 has plunged 22.1% to $1.24 billion as of Monday, according to Comscore. That’s $350 million below the same date a year ago and the lowest figure at this [...]

  • Queen + Adam Lambert perform at

    Queen to Perform at Oscars

    Queen will perform at the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, the Motion Picture Academy announced on social media today. The move, which is not completely a surprise, comes in the wake of the blockbuster success of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic about the band and its late singer, Freddie Mercury. The band now performs under the [...]

  • Richard E. Grant Variety Facetime Interview

    Richard E. Grant on How to Survive Awards Season With Flair

    An Oscar would certainly be nice, but Richard E. Grant doesn’t need a golden statue to walk away from this awards season as a winner. The 61-year-old actor landed his first Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Jack Hock, the loyal accomplice of author-turned-literary forager Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) in the biopic “Can You [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    'Alita: Battle Angel' Banks on Foreign Audiences to Save It From Box Office Disaster

    “Alita: Battle Angel” beat expectations with its $27 million debut at the domestic box office, but Fox’s cyberpunk fantasy adventure has a long road to travel before it can claim victory. When it comes to achieving profitability, the CGI-spectacular may never arrive at that particular destination. With a production budget hovering at $170 million (Fox [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content