Lisa Levy
November 24, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

The First Time I Got Paid for It...Writers' Tales From the Hollywood Trenches

Current Status
In Season
Movies, Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

Supposedly a collection of first-person accounts by screenwriters about plying their trade, The First Time I Got Paid for It (edited by novelist-screenwriter Lefcourt and writer-producer Shapiro) lets its contributors take outrageous liberties with this assignment. But they’re screenwriters, dammit, and they get paid precisely to stretch the truth into absorbing stories. The moments each writer chooses to chronicle speak volumes: Alan Alda reports that he dances around the room when he writes, while Michael Tolkin (The Player) gets waylaid by a friend and ends up with a piece in The Village Voice about Atlantic City. The happy stories make the deepest impression, like Cameron Crowe sitting in the back of a Tucson theater giddily watching an audience laugh at Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Peter Casey’s description of the perfect pitch meeting where Frasier was born. B+

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