It's a commonly held belief that anyone living within a 75-mile radius of CAA is statistically likely to be working on a screenplay. The Writers Guild of America registers nearly 40,000 new scripts a year, and each studio has 200-300 ''film blueprints'' in development at any given time. With all those options available, how in the world does something like The Avengers happen?
So if you development folks want to hold on to your six-figure annuities, we suggest that you look into the following screenplays that for some reason haven't yet received the green light:
CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND by Charlie Kaufman. Based on the autobiography of Chuck Barris, host of The Gong Show. Sick, twisted, hysterical. In development at Warner Bros., with Sean Penn interested in playing the lead and directors as varied as Darren Aronofsky (Pi) and David Cronenberg (eXistenZ) hoping to take the helm.
WALLY & PEPPER by Herb Ratner. In this allegory of race and the Hollywood hierarchy, two robots struggle to maintain artistic integrity. Bought by Universal-based Larger Than Life Productions, where Ratner was once an assistant.
IN DEFENSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY by Skip Woods. A comic retelling of this damsel-in-distress tale. Once owned by Steve Tisch, this spec is again on the market.
FUZZIES by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. A surprisingly sweet story of a boy locked up for seeing creatures. Must be buried underneath someone's Cartman doll at Paramount.
ALEXANDER by Peter Buchman. As in Alexander the Great; a biopic of the fourth-century b.c. conqueror. Such a strong script, it initially attracted Oliver Stone and Tom Cruise. The Usual Suspects scribe Chris McQuarrie is attached to direct at Warner Bros.
BLACKBIRD by Alex Torres. A tearjerker about an artist with Tourette's syndrome. Currently available.
I AM LEGEND by Mark Protosevich. This expensive sci-fi project has been percolating at Warner Bros. for more than a year.
Finally, take another look at scripts that have been abandoned (Dreamgirls, based on the Broadway musical) or are simmering on back burners: The Women, a remake of the 1939 film that was once attached to Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan; and The Alienist, based on Caleb Carr's 1994 best-seller.
Never forget that Raging Bull kicked around for three years before it was made, while Lethal Weapon 4 was already shooting before its script was completed. Lethal, indeed.
Additional reporting by Robert Schwartz