Thanks to the gracious invitation from my Screenwriting Research Network colleague Paolo Russo – and a grant he was able to procure (and in the before-Covid time) I was able to spend a week at Oxford Brookes University working with the screenwriting masters students in Paolo’s course. At the culmination of the week, I gave this lecture on how writers rooms worked in the States.
And Margaret Nagle came off of Boardwalk Empire. She’s a pretty brilliant writer in many ways. She started her career — she was an actress. She moved into writing and she knew she needed to write something powerful and different. You’ve got to find something that hasn’t been done million times before and Warm Springs was the story of Franklin Roosevelt and the time he spent at a spa when he had polio. We’ve seen a million Franklin Roosevelt stories in America because he’s one of our big heroes right? We’ve seen the relationship with Eleanor. We’ve seen the relationship with his mistress. We’ve seen World War II in any different way you can figure it out. Nobody had done the story of how a rich boy dealt with being diagnosed with polio. What did he do and how did he survive and it was in the spa full of other people who weren’t famous or rich and he had to meet people he had never met in his normal life and that’s what formed the man who became the president who created all the programs that helped us survive the depression and the war and so that was a brilliant idea for us and it was just reading history and she stumbled on that thought. Why have i never seen this story? I’ll write it. What a lovely idea. Reading history is a brilliant thing to do.
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