Researcher clicks w/reporter: true stories become movies

For decades the Los Angeles Times has had a Column One feature on the front page, at the top left of the front page, usually, in the A1 position. It's a story-telling opportunity for good reporters. Yesterday Chris Lee hit the ball out of the park with his profile of the unusual reader/Hollywood producer Stuart Klawans.  

It's good to see, because with the newspaper's struggles as of late in two separate bankruptcy court, the big hits have been few and far between. But no matter!

Here is the subject of the profile, Stuart Klawans, the reader/producer: 

Nearly every day, for upward of 10-hour stretches, the independent film producer speed-reads police blogs, articles from RSS feeds and niche-interest journals in dogged pursuit of an elusive prize: a story on which to base his next movie.

His biggest hit to date is "Argo." Before the film landed seven Oscar nominations (including one for best picture) and twoGolden Globes (including best drama picture), before it generated more than $180 million in worldwide grosses, "Argo" existed as a declassified story in the quarterly CIAjournal Studies in Intelligence, which Klawans happens to have been perusing one day in 1998.

"It's like going on the beach with a metal detector," the self-described news junkie says of his process. "Like Kanye West looks through records to sample on his songs, I'm looking for stories to turn into films."

Klawans, 44, has established himself as Hollywood's least likely movie macher by heeding the advice of his mentor, the old-school producer David Brown ("Jaws," "A Few Good Men"): "Read everything you can get your hands on."

A truly inspiring story about,an incredibly hard worker at work in the world of fact and story.  


Even more impressively, Klawans worked with a local reporter, Joshuah Bearman, who shared his taste for unusual stories. Bearman got good assignments, based on Klawans' tips, and went on to research, interview, and very successfully narrativize the stories Klawans found. He made the movie Klawans imagined vivid in prose, enticing the involvement of big Hollywood players such as George Clooney and Ben Affleck. 

Astonishing, and brilliantly timed, as Argo with its latest SAG wins contends for Best Picture

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