Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I should wrap gifts... but one more page.
Here's hoping this year was a terrific writing year for you!  It's always difficult to find time to write if you're balancing a full life... work, family, pets, kids, errands, the Internet... but somehow, we writers manage to block out some time to pound the keys... scratch the paper... send out the next draft.

In 2012, I wrote a Christmas screenplay HARK AND HAROLD with my writing partner, Chris Keller. We made it to the semi-finals of the Page International Screenwriting Awards.  It was super exciting and we received great feedback.  

We're working on a brand new draft and will send it into the world in early 2013... may it someday be part of your holiday tradition to watch HARK AND HAROLD.  
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and blessed New Year in 2013.  Keep writing, following your dreams and believing that you have something worthwhile to share with the world through your written words and images.  Keep the faith.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy, Prosperous 2013!
Janet Lawler
The NY Screenwriting Life Blog
New York City 

Thursday, December 13, 2012


The 70th Annual Golden Globes were just announced.  There are movies and television shows you'd expect to be nominated (Lincoln, Argo, Homeland, Breaking Bad, etc.), but there are a few surprises too...

Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor!

They're nominated for Best Actress and Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy and deservedly so.  Did you see Salmon Fishing in Yemen when it came out early this year?  Probably not, not many people did.  I did (and reviewed it below for this blog).  It's a delightful movie that didn't stick around long in theaters -- probably because of its title -- but both actors are terrific in it.  It has a fresh story.  Kristin Scott Thomas is a riot as a foul-mouthed British press manager.

Lets hope the Golden Globe nomination for Blunt and McGregor will make this fishing movie the catch of the day.

Rent it if you can before the awards.

by Janet Lawler
February 22, 2012

Who knew fly-fishing could be so heartwarming and fun?

Salmon Fishing in Yemen, the new movie, definitely hooked its audience last night at an advanced screening here in Manhattan.  The romantic comedy stars Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, with a terrific supporting role for Kristin Scott Thomas.

The story is a fish tale -- about a Middle Eastern sheik who wants to bring the sport of fly-fishing to his country.  Money is no object... and so, Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor join forces to make it happen.

It's a romantic comedy (with a tricky title for a movie) that make both lead characters endearing to the audience as well as to each other.  Blunt brings her familiar wit and charisma from "The Devil Wears Prada" but adds a delicate touch to the dramatic scenes.  Ewan McGregor is adorable in every scene -- I can't say much more -- he's simply adorable to watch.  He makes you root for the fish too.

Kristin Scott Thomas
Kristin Scott Thomas gets plenty of laughs throughout portraying a fast-talking Brit press manager/mother-of-three.  Her line telling her son to remove his "hoodie" is golden, but I can't repeat it here.  Go see the movie for yourself.  The film is directed by Lasse Hallstrom -- well-paced, enticing, with stunning shots of Afghanistan,  The screenplay is written by Simon Beaufoy, based on the novel by Paul Torday

After the movie, I heard several people raving about it outside.  One movie-goer said to her friend "I'd  go see that again!".
Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor
I would too.  It's a good one. Go catch this movie, you won't be tempted to throw it back.

"Salmon Fishing in Yemen" Here is the movie trailer http://fishingintheyemen.com/ 

Until next time.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Debra Winger in The Anarchist
Janet Lawler
New York
December 6, 2012

Debra Winger made some great movies.  Remember her in "Urban Cowboy" with John Travolta?  She was unknown, but stole screen time from then red-hot Travolta.   

Next, she stood toe to toe with Richard Gere in "An Officer and a Gentleman" -- he lifted her off her feet and carried her out of that paper factory -- making movie history -- but it was Winger who in the very last frame of the movie put on his naval cap to make a statement -- 

She took control -- just ask Shirley MacLaine, her costar in another fave "Terms of Endearment".   Soon Hollywood said Winger was difficult.  Winger said she didn't care.  She just wanted to make good movies.  Good parts for women.

Those good parts dwindled and Debra Winger left the movies.  She married actor Arliss Howard and resided to upstate New York to raise her family.  She wrote a memoir "Undiscovered" in 2008.  She resurfaced on screen again in "Rachel Getting Married".  She did some TV -- namely, Law and Order.

She's currently making her Broadway debut in "The Anarchist".
Playwright David Mamet

It's a new play written and directed by David Mamet.  I saw it recently in previews -- it stars not only Winger, but legendary actress Patti LuPone.  Both women in a new Mamet play? I couldn't dial the box-office fast enough...
Patti LuPone and Debra Winger

Unfortunately, the play didn't live up to my excitement.  The actors are fine -- but putting LuPone and Winger in a two-character play and never experiencing any true DRAMA between them is a waste.  Instead of fireworks on stage we got a fizzle of conflict. 

A dud.  Sadly.

The NY Times just announced that the play is closing.  It opened December 3rd.  It will go dark by December 16th.  Sad.  Imagine all the work, rehearsing, investing that went into this play?  But the reviewers were dreadful and worse on social media.  The play runs like 70 minutes... without an intermission.  The audience felt cheated.  (Let's not even mention the wardrobe and hair the actresses had to endure).

Can't blame Winger or LuPone.  It's the playwright who let us down.  David Mamet - famous or not -- gave us a play he never fully developed.  The characters never evolved.  I didn't care about either one or their predicament.  It was a Q and A between a prisoner and a warden (or parole officer).  The audience kept waiting for the pay off... a big secret revealed by end?  None.  A memorable moment between two powerhouse actresses?  None. Crackling dialogue?  None.  Not even a Mamet F-bomb to wake us up.

And then lights out.  WHAT?

We wanted to stand and give an ovation to the actresses for being punished before our eyes -- and not just because they were in a prison play.  We felt their pain.  We were imprisoned in our seats -- that cost a pretty penny.

We poured onto W.45th Street after the play scratching our heads.  It was barely 9PM and the play is over?  I heard one guy say "Is it really over? Now what do we do?  Go have a drink?  Walk around Times Square?"   To me, it felt like the play never began. 

So my search for Debra Winger goes on... (see the documentary Searching for Debra Winger http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-GALaD2kuE)

I'll support her next book, next film, or play.  I'm happy she's back and working.  She still has it... that deadpan delivery of a line... that she used with Travolta, Gere and MacLaine.  The raspy voice that, unfortunately, David Mamet didn't fully take advantage of this time.

The Anarchist is playing at the Golden Theatre in New York City.  http://theanarchistbroadway.com/

Until next time.