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Appelbaum & Nemec : Friendship leads to big-budget ‘Mission’

10 Screenwriters to Watch 2011: Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec

In the initial stages of “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec huddled with star Tom Cruise, director Brad Bird and producer J.J. Abrams hashing over the broad story points.

“It was a communal process,” says Appelbaum. “But when it gets down to me and Andre …”

“We spend a lot of time in room alone, laying it all out, beat for beat,” continues Nemec.

“Because if we don’t have that really detailed roadmap before starting the script, it can be mayhem,” adds Appelbaum.

It’s not surprising to hear Appelbaum and Nemec complete each other’s sentences. They’re not just longtime professional partners — they’ve been friends since they were third-graders at Riverdale Country School, a K-12 preparatory academy in New York .

The duo went their separate ways for college, with Appelbaum attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, while Nemec went to USC. Reconvening in Los Angeles after graduation, they wrote a TV pilot they were certain would put them on the show business map. Nemec, who had guested on several series, would star; Appelbaum would direct.

“We had huge and ridiculous aspirations for it,” Appelbaum says. But the script got them an agent they began working soon after that as staff writers on the first-run syndicated series “Fame L.A.” (1997).

Over the next several years, they bounced to the staff of a new show each season — “Early Edition,” “Martial Law,” “Profiler,” “Going to California,” “She Spies” and “Fastlane” — before landing on the Abrams-produced spy show “Alias” for three seasons. Finally, in 2007, they got their own show, “October Road,” which lasted two seasons, and they went on to create the U.S. version of “Life on Mars” (2008-09) and “Happy Town” (2010).

Since completing the latest “Mission: Impossible,” the duo has been tapped to rewrite “Now You See Me” for Summit, script a reboot of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” for Paramount and producer Michael Bay, and a pen an untitled New York City-set disaster film for producer Mark Gordon.

“After that, our dance card is a little open,” Nemec says.

“But we’re definitely talking to J.J. about doing something in the near future,” Appelbaum adds.

TEN SCREENWRITERS TO WATCH 2011:
Josh Appelbaum & Andrew Nemec | Jay Baruchel & Jesse Chabot | Justin Britt-Gibson | Neil Cross | Andrew Haigh | Kurt Johnstad | Lauryn Kahn | Paula Pell | Jon Spaihts | Brian Yorkey

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