February 07, 2007
An Evening of Words and Notes

Fox Searchlight, 42 West and Chasen & Company really put on a classy event last night at the Skirball Cultural Center here in Los Angeles for the Oscar nominated "Notes on a Scandal." It was called "An Evening of Words and Notes" and featured nominees Philip Glass and Patrick Marber, as well as novelist Zoe Heller.

The proceedings were eloquently moderated by Creative Screenwriting's Jeff Goldsmith and included the reading of passages from the novel (by Heller) followed by readings of the same sequences from the script (by Marber). Glass would chime in from time to time with his ponderings regarding building the characters represented on the screen through musical composition.

It's really a delight to watch Glass cut loose, idiosyncracies and all, on the his creative processes. He hopped over to the piano from time to time to elaborate points, but the real treat of the night was the final reading, which included Mr. Glass's acting debut - in the role of 15 year old student Steven Connoly, of course.

To boot, Marber reads material with a rousing grandeur. Seeing him go back and forth with Ms. Heller was an absolute treat. And as you can imagine, Marber discussing the decisions he made in the adaptation process, reasoning behind certain changes, etc., made for captivating conversation for any fellow writer. The best line of the night, however, had to come from Heller as she initially pulled out her novel for the first reading. Regarding Marber's notes decorating the margins (it was his working copy of the book), Heller was amused by the words "What's the point?" scribbled next to more than a few passages.

Such is the process of adaptation. Amping up the drama here, withholding information there. It really is an interesting transition from page to screen and a deserving nomination for Marber. It was, of course, great chatting with him once more, however briefly.

The whole gang was nice enough to stick around afterward and sign copies of the novel, screenplay and soundtrack for the crowd. Not to mention all those apple-shaped candles going around (Searchlight has cornered the trinket market this year). Glass, however, had to slip out early and catch a flight.

A well-organized, classy evening on the whole. This is an Oscar campaign.


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