There is no such thing as writer's block in Hollywood this week.
Given the Writers Guild of America contract expiration of midnight Wednesday, scribes are feverishly putting finishing touches on their projects and having them biked or messenger-pouched over to the studios.
One sigh of relief went up over at Sony Pictures late last week: Oscar-winning Crash filmmaker Paul Haggis delivered his draft for the 22nd Bond installment.
For many other projects, scripts are pouring in, getting a quick read and notes before being rushed back to the writers -- all in the hope of having the most advanced draft possible in order to beat the witching hour deadline.
I'm getting drafts in, and I'm flipping them around like crazy, said one studio executive.
Fox's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which is being penned by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac), and The Fast and the Furious 4 by Chris Morgan are among dozens of scripts that are being flipped, a process that actually is uniting execs and scribes in one goal: to get a script that is filmable.
Normally, you'd give notes and they go off and they write, take their time, do some things in the notes and not others, another studio executive said. Everyone is playing for the same team now. That way, we have our best shot at making a movie.
Brian Helgeland submitted Nottingham, Universal's retelling of the Robin Hood story with Russell Crowe attached, for director Ridley Scott's approval Monday; Helgeland is also under the gun to deliver The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, with Denzel Washington and John Travolta attached, to Scott's brother, Tony Scott.
Some writers are turning in multiple drafts of the same script with variations in scenes and endings in order to cover a project's potential demands.
Paramount in fact has asked for three different scripts from three different writers for G.I. Joe, and will perhaps combine the best parts from each one. Those involved in the novel tri-partite draft effort are Stuart Beattie (30 Days of Night), John Lee Hancock (The Alamo) and the writing team of Brian Koppelman and David Levien (The Winter of Frankie Machine).
Some projects may turn to their acting talent to step in and do minor touch-up jobs.
New Line's Vince Vaughn-headlined Four Christmases, which is still being worked on, could enlist the fingers of Vaughn, who has been known to work on his scripts and is not a member of the WGA. Disney's Bedtime Stories, which has Adam Sandler on board to star, can't rely on that actor, even though he often writes his own movies: Sandler is a union member.
And while the writers write, many executives are hunkering down.
I'm canceling lunches and meetings, and all I'm doing is reading scripts, said one executive. It's kind of exciting.
As for the TV business, the programming schedules of broadcast networks would be hugely disrupted were a strike to be called soon.
A prolonged stoppage would lead to abbreviated 10-episode seasons of scripted series, forcing the networks to fill primetime with repeats, unscripted fare and occasional acquisitions. Already, webheads are prepping their alternatives: NBC, for example, is considering running the original British production of The Office as strike-replacement programming.