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08/27/2001
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"From An Audience Of Brass Fasteners To ?Must-Meet status' for the Big Brass." Part 2

Paul Buscemi's Column for Monday August 27th, 2001. Buscemiarts@hotmail.com

Last week, as you may recall, we spoke of a strange audience of brass fasteners that have gathered around my keyboard lately. It was pretty freaky at first, but after a week I'm really starting to like the little guys. They're well behaved, very attentive and fans of great stories with compelling characters.

We struggle in a vacuum seeking an audience for our work and one day we awake to find a "packed house" at our fingertips. The story has played out again and again. Writer makes one sale and now everyone wants to meet with him. This is great of course. A dream come true.

To better understand the overnight status change we are all working toward, we continue this week with the wisdom of screenwriter Howard Klausner. Klausner co-wrote Space Cowboys, (with Ken Kaufman) a spec screenplay that sold in a week. Although he had written twelve screenplays before, it was that rapid spec sale which elevated him to must-meet status with the Hollywood brass.

Howard Klausner's life has certainly changed since that first sale. He's now working on three projects, one of which at Warner Brothers will likely begin shooting in January. Klausner also has a thriller project with "Entrapment" director, John Ameil attached. All this success would not have been possible if friend and fellow writer Ken Kaufman had not coaxed Klausner, who had essentially quit the business, back into writing.

"Ken Kaufman and I met about ten years ago while traveling in Thailand, of all places. We traveled together for about three weeks, had a blast, and then parted company." Ken had already established himself as a rewrite-guy in Hollywood (at a young age of 26 or 27) and was doing quite well," explains Klausner.

"We kept in touch and read each other's stuff over the years. I decided, after 12 screenplays that I had had enough and was quitting. My wife and I were going to Europe and then I would come back and take a job teaching delinquent kids in the jail system. The very morning that I am leaving for the airport, Ken calls me," Klausner continues.

Kaufman was having problems with an idea he was pitching around town. It became clear that it would not sell as a pitch and he would have to write the script on spec. Kaufman enlisted the help of his friend, Howard, on a project he explained as "grumpy old men in space." At first Klausner, not interested in writing for free, turned him down. Eventually Kaufman convinced him to read the outline.

On the flight to Europe Klausner read the idea. "I saw why he wasn't selling it - people were just not going to buy ?grumpy old men in space.' But they might buy ?The Magnificent Seven in space,' - I thought. I landed in London, ran to a pay phone, and said: ?I'll do it.' "

Next week, we continue with Klausner's thoughts on the writing process, career building, pitching and the writer's life. Stay tuned....

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