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Hugh Laurie 'stars' in Writers Give Back event

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Turns out, Hollywood’s writers’ strike had at least one upside: It inspired a few writers to be a little more selfless. The organization Writers Give Back, founded during the strike by producer Brian Pines, is now seeking to help people in need and writers in need, often at the same time. Based in Los Angeles, WGB is staging table readings of unproduced screenplays — asking stars to donate their time to play the roles — and then finding creative ways to turn the events into fund-raisers. First out of the gate: House star Hugh Laurie, Ugly Betty star Chris Gorham, and others will perform a table read of Pines’ own screenplay, the romantic comedy Now in Paperback, at the Actors Gang Theater in Culver City on Monday, May 5. The event is by invitation to industry insiders only, and guests are asked to bring at least one book as the price of admission. All books will be donated to the children’s literacy organization, First Book. And here’s the best part: If the screenplay is sold, the writer will donate a percentage of the sale to First Book, too. “We already give 10 percent to our agent, 15 percent to our manager and 5 percent to our

lawyers,” Pines says. “Why shouldn’t we give a percentage to the world at large?”

addCredit(“Mathew Imaging/WireImage.com”)

Pines, a former production exec on House, hopes to turn these

table reads into a monthly series. First Book won’t always be the

benefactor, though. Pines is looking to find ways to pair the theme of

each screenplay with an appropriate charity. Now In Paperback

is about a rich-girl novelist whose ex-boyfriend writes a scathing

tell-all about their relationship. The feuding former sweeties find

themselves on dueling book tours. Pines figured a book drive was a

prefect fit for this subject matter. In the future, though, WGB will

look for other types of script-charity pairings. Hypothetically, a

screenplay about drug addiction, say, might be used to stage a table

reading to benefit a rehab facility.

In the meantime, Pines, whose day job is as an executive at

Josephson Entertainment, has also launched the group Actors Give Back.

He’s looking to add a Musicians Give Back arm as well. “People want to

do

something,” Pines says. “They just don’t know where to start.” Pines

got the idea for WGB not just because he had free time during the

strike, he says, but because of what he saw happening during it. “Joss

Whedon had 200 fans show up on the picket line one day to

support him,” Pines says. “Imagine if Joss went to Habitat for Humanity

and 200 fans

joined him there. They would have had a Whedon house or a Whedon block

built by the end of that day.”

Monday’s event at the Actors Gang Theater

begins with cocktails at 7 p.m., and is nearly sold out, but anyone who

wishes to donate books to First Book can drop books off at the theater

anytime on May 5. For more information on Writers Give Back, and to

learn about upcoming events, check the WGB website.

Pines, a former production exec on House, hopes to turn thesetable reads into a monthly series. First Book won’t always be thebenefactor, though. Pines is looking to find ways to pair the theme ofeach screenplay with an appropriate charity. Now In Paperbackis about a rich-girl novelist whose ex-boyfriend writes a scathingtell-all about their relationship. The feuding former sweeties findthemselves on dueling book tours. Pines figured a book drive was aprefect fit for this subject matter. In the future, though, WGB willlook for other types of script-charity pairings. Hypothetically, ascreenplay about drug addiction, say, might be used to stage a tablereading to benefit a rehab facility.

In the meantime, Pines, whose day job is as an executive atJosephson Entertainment, has also launched the group Actors Give Back.He’s looking to add a Musicians Give Back arm as well. “People want todosomething,” Pines says. “They just don’t know where to start.” Pinesgot the idea for WGB not just because he had free time during thestrike, he says, but because of what he saw happening during it. “JossWhedon had 200 fans show up on the picket line one day tosupport him,” Pines says. “Imagine if Joss went to Habitat for Humanityand 200 fansjoined him there. They would have had a Whedon house or a Whedon blockbuilt by the end of that day.”

Monday’s event at the Actors Gang Theaterbegins with cocktails at 7 p.m., and is nearly sold out, but anyone whowishes to donate books to First Book can drop books off at the theateranytime on May 5. For more information on Writers Give Back, and tolearn about upcoming events, check the WGB website.