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And the Oscar for 'best screenplay' goes to...

The Oscars were this week. While the usual pundits are busy sharpening their predictions and betting on the biggies-the Best Actor, Best Director, Best Picture-I would like to say a word for the oft forgotten writing nominations.

Scripts are the seeds of thought that movies grow from. Not many films get made without them (not ones you'd like to rest your eyeballs on, anyway).

Writers are like ancient monks, spending their lives hunkered in lonely cells illuminating movies with their imaginations. They seldom get the attention they deserve and yet they take enormous risks with their time and effort.

Maybe, as few as one screenplay in a hundred gets made. Hollywood often undervalues the writer, treating them more like a handyman or a plumber, bringing them in to fix a loose end in a story, like it was a leak. They like giving them explicit instructions and then they fire the poor scribe when the story doesn't hold water.

Believe me, I am not complaining. I chose to be in this business with all its idiosyncrasies both good and bad. Where else could a guy who left school at 15 write a script with his partner about Robin Hood and get paid $1 million? But, for every winner like our "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves", I have a shelf of unmade scripts that I've invested years into and equally believe in.

As a member of the Academy, I am sworn to secrecy about my Oscar votes.

Otherwise, men from Price Waterhouse will pursue me down alleys in Hollywood and beat me with their brief cases. But, I can reveal this about this year's writing nominees: the big winner is going to be you!

Movies are "show business" with a lot of emphasis on the business, as giant corporations come to own most studios. The executives are on the line when they invest tens or hundreds of millions in a story.

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