Plus the drama behind the "Black Hawk Down" screenplay

MEN IN BLACK If you thought directing a military opus like Black Hawk Down was tough, try writing the screenplay. When Ken Nolan was asked to adapt Mark Bowden‘s best-selling book about the 1993 massacre in Somalia for producer Jerry Bruckheimer, ”My agent said, ‘You’re going to be rewritten. These guys are serial replacers, so don’t get married to the material,” remembers Nolan, whose work had never been produced. ”I wrote 10 drafts for Jerry, then [director] Ridley Scott came on, and I wrote three more…and then I was replaced.” Oscar winner Stephen Gaghan (Traffic) took a pass at it, as did Steven Zaillian, who won an Oscar for Schindler’s List. Says Nolan, ”It was kind of sad, like, ‘Thanks, little kid. Get out of the way; here come the real people.”’ Then, last February, Nolan got a call from Bruckheimer, telling him to come to the Morocco set and provide on-site rewrites. Nolan’s work has earned him not only billing as sole screenwriter of the Josh Hartnett drama but also a killer of a pay increase: For two and a half years on Black Hawk, his price was $325,000; now, he’s commanding nearly double that for a few months of doctoring. ”People are taking me seriously all of a sudden,” says Nolan. ”CNN called and said, ‘We want Nolan to be on with General so-and-so; and I said, ‘No way! I don’t know anything about politics.”’ Given how he navigated through Black Hawk, we beg to differ.

FURTHERMORE In more Bruckheimer news, the producer says Cate Blanchett, fresh from maternity leave (she gave birth to son Dashiell John last month), will start filming Chasing the Dragon for him in March. The project, directed by Joel Schumacher, is a biopic about Veronica Guerin, the Irish journalist who was killed in retaliation for her investigative coverage of organized crime in Dublin.

Black Hawk Down
  • Movie
  • 144 minutes