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Passion is King – The Inspirational Story of a Screenplay

May 14, 2012 Inspiration, Screenwriting, Writing 15 Comments

An Interview with George Arthur Bloom by Christiane Alsop

The independent film Any Day Now, staring Alan Cumming, premiered a few weeks ago at the TriBeCa Film Festival in New York, where it won the coveted Audience Award.

In Any Day Now, Marco, a teenager with Down syndrome, finds an unlikely caretaker in his neighbor Rudy, a drag singer, and Rudy’s closeted partner, district attorney Paul. However, even though Marco’s mother is an abusive, drug-addicted convict, and Marco has bonded beautifully with both Rudy and Paul, this is 1970’s Los Angeles and a gay couple has no legal way to adopt him.

I was involved in the production of this movie and had a great experience from start to finish. Both adoption and gay rights are subjects close to my heart, but I think I can say without prejudice that this film is truly wonderful. And for us writers, the story of how the screenplay became a movie 35 years after it was written, is inspirational.

Here’s my interview with the author George Arthur Bloom.

BTM: Thank you so much, George, for talking to us. We are honored to have you on our blog. What inspired you to write the screenplay for Any Day Now in the ‘70s and who was George Arthur Bloom back in those days?

GAB: Before I became a writer I worked for Universal Studios on a number of TV shows in the 1960s. I learned a lot about production and left Universal to produce my own projects. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any of them made, although 2 of them eventually became movies years later: Blade Runner and The Other Side of the Mountain, a story about a girl skier who broke her back right before she was to be in the Olympics. Having always written and having worked with writers as a story editor, I decided to try my luck as a writer of my own projects. I had some success in television and with a couple of independently made features in the 70s.

Around 1979/1980 a friend introduced me to a hairdresser named Rudy who lived on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn. The area wasn’t very nice back then, and Rudy had gone out of his way to help a child that was living with his grandmother a few blocks away. The child didn’t speak (I suspect he was autistic) and his grandmother didn’t really want to care for him, so Rudy, who didn’t have any money, stepped in and did what he could to give the boy a life and some schooling. I spent several days with Rudy listening to his story, and I was so moved by what he did I began to wonder what would happen if Rudy tried to legally adopt the child. Inspired by the notion, I wrote a screenplay about a gay man trying to adopt a child (entitled Rudy), and it became the basis for Any Day Now.

BTM: How did your screenplay get discovered?

GAB:  This is a great story in itself. Travis Fine, who directed and produced Any Day Now, had made a film a year earlier called The Space Between. My son, PJ, a music supervisor in LA (he does GLEE among other TV shows and movies) handled the music for Travis on that movie. After Travis finished The Space Between, he told PJ he was looking for another movie to do, and PJ remembered my screenplay about Rudy. Travis said he wanted to see it and then responded immediately saying, he wanted to option it, as long as I was okay with him reworking it. We discussed the changes and the process began.

BTM: Why do you think the world wasn’t ready for your screenplay when you first wrote it? What has changed?

GAB:  After I initially wrote the screenplay, I came very close to getting it made on several occasions. A number of producers optioned it over the years, several actors and directors showed interest, but the bottom line was that nobody wanted to risk making a movie about a gay guy who tries to adopt a mentally challenged kid. I recall a major production executive at Disney saying to me that it was the best screenplay he had ever read, but Disney would never make it.

Honestly, I’m not so sure too much has changed in the Hollywood mindset about making a movie about gay adoption. While I think many in Hollywood would personally champion the idea of making the movie, the concern of the Major Studios is whether or not the general public will accept it. Would it make any money? We all know what the politics are out there, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, although I believe it will be a crossover hit at the box office (something I’ve always believed, if just given a chance).

While the climate to make the movie hasn’t changed, what did change was the addition of Travis Fine to the project. His passion and dedication for the story and the subject matter changed everything. What he added to the screenplay was brilliant. Turning Rudy into a drag queen who longs to be a respectable singer was a great idea. Making Paul, a minor character in my script, Rudy’s partner with legal experience was another great change. Casting Alan Cumming and Garrett Dillahunt couldn’t have worked out better as both give amazing performances. And the casting of a boy with Down syndrome was genius.

Travis told me in our very first conversation that he would get the movie made. And he did. And he did it beautifully.

BTM:  What were your thoughts and feelings throughout all those years that Any Day Now spent in your drawer?

GAB:  Naturally, they were terribly frustrating.I spent close to 10 years trying to get it made after I initially wrote it, but coming close doesn’t count except for having some good stories to tell. I believed then that if I could ever get it made it would be an exceptional movie and maybe even change the way we think about gay adoption, and I still believe that. I also felt that the role of Rudy was an extraordinary opportunity for an actor, and I think my instincts have been born out with Alan’s exceptional performance.

Throughout the years I felt it was the best thing I had ever written, but as time went on I got involved in other projects and wrote other screenplays, and the script basically gathered dust in my filing cabinet. The fact that we are talking about it today, and people are finally going to see it up on the screen, is a miracle.

BTM: What can you tell us writers with a masterpiece in the drawer? Any advice?     

GAB: That’s a tough one. I’d say don’t ever give up on something you believe in, and yet, in my case, the years of frustration and the need to move on with my career made me give up on it. I never forgot about it, but I did stop actively trying to get it made. So I don’t have a great inspirational answer other than to keep plugging away and maybe someday you’ll be in a position to pull that script out of your drawer and someone will want to make it because of something else you wrote that has given you more credibility or more power. We’ve all got the special piece we’ve written that may never see the light of day, but don’t ever forget that you wrote it and you have it – and just maybe lady luck will shine down on you and you can pull it out of the drawer again. Hey, it happened to me.

If one wants to be a professional writer, and by that I mean make a living as a writer, I think the best advice I can give is to keep pushing forward. Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing. Too many people talk about writing this or that and never do it. You’ve got to be disciplined. You’ve got to be responsible.  Writing for a living is a job. You need to get up every morning and write.

BTM: Are you working on something now that we can expect to see in about twenty-five to thirty years?

GAB: I’ve been lucky enough to make a good living as a writer, so I’m always working on something. While a handful of writers make big money, most are just trying to get by. I think it’s important to get work for hire to pay the bills (if you can), even if you have to set your ego aside and do things you don’t really want to do. But while doing that, you need to find the time to write that special screenplay or novel about something you are passionate about. That’s where the big prize is. Remember, passion is king!

I’m currently developing a new screenplay that deals with Alzheimer’s in a unique way. However, I seriously doubt that I’ll still be vertical if I have to wait another thirty years to get it made.

 

In a writing career that has spanned some 40 years, George Arthur Bloom (he sort of looks like the gentleman on the left) has written for movies, television and has had a distinguished career in children’s television. He has over 300 writing credits, including lengthy stints as Head Writer on Magic School Bus and Cyberchase for PBS and WNET in New York. He has also won an Emmy for his work on Cyberchase.


 

 

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Currently there are "15 comments" on this Article:

  1. Kathy Crowley Kathy Crowley says:

    Christiane and George —
    What a great story! I can’t wait to see Any Day Now.

  2. Can we have a BTM night at this movie’s opening?

  3. Jill Bates says:

    Love the interview! This sounds like a fascinating film – I’ll be looking out for it (thought I doubt it’ll hit the AMC in my neck of the woods). I particularly liked the advice on writing….

    “Keep writing. Too many people talk about writing this or that and never do it. You’ve got to be disciplined. You’ve got to be responsible. Writing for a living is a job. You need to get up every morning and write.”

    Thanks for pointing me to it!

    • Jill, I am with you. What he says about writing is so to the point. When the movie hits the AMCs you’ll just have to come visit us and we’ll have a night out in Boston.

  4. Necee says:

    What a great story in so many ways: the real Rudy, the movie Rudy, and George’s path from giving up on the project to seeing it completed. I hope to be able to see the movie!

    (And…almost as important…did you meet Alan Cumming??? Swoon!)

  5. Cathy Brown says:

    Great article Christiane – movie sounds so good. Best of luck with it.

  6. Jill Stover says:

    This story couldn’t be more timely, with President Obama coming out in support of gay families. How far we have come in a few years since the screenplay was written. Great piece!

  7. Julie Wu Julie Wu says:

    Cool interview, Christiane! Sounds like a great movie! I’ll have to get your autograph!

  8. Christiane, wonderfull interview. He really does give us writers hope for the “abandoned” pieces in the drawer. I cannot wait to see this movie. Kudos to you for helping to get it made.

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Christiane Alsop

Christiane Alsop
Christiane K. Alsop, is a writer and an adjunct teacher at Lesley University’s Graduate Program for Intercultural Relations. Her novel, The Ideology of Love, explores the trauma of history for the post-Nazi generation of Germans and is currently under agent consideration. Her personal essay, Presumed Guilty, was named Notable Essay of 2005 in The Best American Essays 2006. Christiane lives in Beverly, Massachusetts, with her husband and son. Read Full

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