Brooklynite Lewis Colick moved to the West Coast in 1974 to pursue graduate study in theater arts at UCLA. After obtaining his MFA, he moved into writing for TV, penning some episodic scripts and turn...
As Ladder 49 opens Baltimore firefighter Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix) gets trapped inside a blazing warehouse while rescuing a trapped civilian. With his escape routes either caved in or burned down Jack has to keep his wits as he waits for Fire Chief Mike Kennedy (John Travolta) and his fellow firefighters to rescue him. Lying in a bed of rubble Jack has rather vivid and detailed flashbacks of pivotal moments in his life including his first day at the firehouse the day he met his wife-to-be at the supermarket their wedding day the birth of their daughter and so on. While these flashbacks provide neat chronological accounts of his life they do very little to shape or build Jack's character because they are focused on his heroic antics rather than the man underneath the uniform. The film also works feverishly to showcase the brotherly bond between the men but doesn't extend beyond silly firehouse pranks including putting a goose in someone's locker or tossing a lit newspaper into an occupied toilette stall. The only thing missing from these tawdry sitcom-like moments is a laugh track. Third Watch the NBC drama following New York City police paramedics and firefighters on the 3-11 p.m. shift offers more character development and intrigue in a one-hour episode than this feature film dishes out in two hours.
Phoenix is both sweet and awkward in the role of Jack a rookie firefighter who can't hide his enthusiasm about his line of work. Jack's charming side is demonstrated in his relationship with his wife particularly in the intensely loving way Phoenix looks at his co-star Jacinda Barrett whether they're at a crowded birthday bash or riding on the back of the fire truck following their humble small-town nuptials. Phoenix's Jack also has a slightly dim-witted side which comes through in the "Aw shucks" way he reacts to being the butt of many firehouse pranks. But there's a third sadly missing dimension missing to Jack: He's a hero with no fire in his belly. Travolta on the other hand just isn't convincing in this blue-collar role of fire chief. Perhaps it's just that these characters are too damn perfect. Post 9/11 firefighters have become more than rescuers they are in the eyes of many Americans heroes and Ladder 49 adopts the biased notion that they are also faultless.
Director Jay Russell (Tuck Everlasting) visually captures the essence of this working class Baltimore neighborhood and its firehouse from Jack's cluttered wood-paneled home to Mike's utilitarian firehouse office. Production designer Tony Burrough paid meticulous attention to set details particularly in how the backdrops age over a decade; Jack's house becomes junkier and his gear gets dingier. The controlled fires on the set look incredibly real and feel equally oppressive--and this is where Russell's direction really shines. A scene in which Jack enters his first burning building for example adds to the film's authenticity: The probie (firefighter lingo for a new guy) runs up the stairs too fast and doesn't aim the hose high enough. These small details remind moviegoers what an exact line of work this really is. But while Ladder 49 effectively demonstrates the risky and altruistic work firefighters do it doesn't delve any deeper than its spectacular rescues. Throughout the film Jack is asked what motivates him to run into a burning building when everyone else is running out--a question scribe Lewis Colick never lets Ladder 49's characters answer.
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 9, 2000 -- Film nominations for the 52nd Annual Writers Guild Awards were handed down today, and, with few exceptions, the list was surprise-free.
The usual award-show suspects, including Golden Globe screenplay champ "American Beauty," were honored for their excellence in screenplays.
The most notable surprise nod was perhaps for Lewis Colick's adaptation for the critically lauded (but mostly overlooked) "October Sky."
One notable snub came in the form of "The Hurricane," which last month took University of Southern California's annual Scripter Award for best film adaptation. While a fast-starter on the buzz front, the movie has come under attack of late for flying fast and loose with the story of wrongly imprisoned boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.
The guild's East and West Coast voting bodies decided upon nominees. Like the Academy Awards, award hopefuls are split into two categories -- there's one for best original screenplay, one for best adaptation.
The Guild's TV and radio nominations were previously announced. Winners in all categories will be announced March 5 in dual ceremonies at New York's Plaza Hotel and the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Here's a complete look at the WGA's screenplay nominees:
BEST SCREENPLAY WRITTEN DIRECTLY FOR THE SCREEN
"American Beauty" Written by Alan Ball. (DreamWorks Pictures)
"Being John Malkovich" Written by Charlie Kaufman. (USA Films)
"Magnolia" Written by Paul Thomas Anderson. (New Line Cinema)
"The Sixth Sense" Written by M. Night Shyamalan. (Buena Vista Pictures)
"Three Kings" Screenplay by David O. Russell; story by John Ridley. (Warner Bros.)
BEST SCREENPLAY BASED ON MATERIAL PREVIOUSLY PRODUCED OR PUBLISHED
"The Cider House Rules" Screenplay by John Irving, based on his novel. (Miramax Films)
"Election" Screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta. (Paramount Pictures)
"The Insider" Written by Eric Roth & Michael Mann, based on the article "The Man Who Knew Too Much" by Marie Brenner. (Buena Vista Pictures)
"October Sky" Screenplay by Lewis Colick, based on the book "Rocket Boys" by Homer H. Hickam Jr. (Universal Pictures)
"The Talented Mr. Ripley" Screenplay by Anthony Minghella, based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith. (Paramount Pictures and Miramax Films)
Co-wrote (with David Brandes) the low-budget teen flick "The Dirt Bike Kids"
Solo feature screenwriting debut, the thriller "Unlawful Entry"
TV debut as screenwriter, the NBC movie "Crossing the Mob"
Scripted the earnest, based-on-fact "Ghosts of Mississippi", about attempts to bring the murderer of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers to justice
Served as co-executive producer and screenwriter for "Radiant City", an ABC drama starring Kirstie Alley; screenplay had been written many years before and was cited by AMERICAN FILM (March 1991) as one of the great unproduced screenplays
Penned the script for the drama "Ladder 49" about Baltimore firefighters
Wrote the thriller "Domestic Disturbance"
Penned the screenplay for "October Sky", the adaptation of NASA engineer Homer Hickham Jr's memoir of his boyhood in the coal mining communities of West Virginia
Collaborated with Joe Gayton on the Damon Wayans-Adam Sandler ccomedy vehicle "Bulletproof"
Co-wrote the screenplay for "Charlie St. Cloud," a film based on Ben Sherwood's novel "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud," starring Zac Efron as a young man coming to terms with the death of his younger brother
Brooklynite Lewis Colick moved to the West Coast in 1974 to pursue graduate study in theater arts at UCLA. After obtaining his MFA, he moved into writing for TV, penning some episodic scripts and turning out several unproduced feature screenplays. One of these, "Radiant City", was cited by AMERICAN FILM (March 1991) as one of the best unproduced scripts. While Miramax at one time held an option to produce it as a feature, its period setting and intimate story seemingly made it more palatable for the small screen. ABC produced it in 1996 with Kirstie Alley in the leading role of a Brooklyn woman who desires a better life for her family.<p>A desire for self-improvement is one theme that plays heavily in Colick's work. His first produced TV-movie "Crossing the Mob" (NBC, 1988) focused on a young man who thought the only way to better himself was to hook up with local gangsters. Another predominant motif in the writer's work hinges on menace, often in the form of a single man. Colick first explored that idea in "Unlawful Entry" (1992) with Ray Liotta cast as a cop who insinuates his way into the complacent life of a married couple. Similarly, "Judgment Night" (1993) revolved around a group of four young men who accidentally strike a shooting victim and then are terrorized by thugs. "Bulletproof" (1996, which he co-wrote with Joe Gayton) opted for a comedic take on the material (with James Caan as the heavy).<p>"Ghosts of Mississippi" (1996), Rob Reiner's earnest take on the slaying of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers, ostensibly focused on the lawyer who was out to bring his assassin to justice. Colick spent a year researching the case, travelling to Mississippi to conduct interviews and amassing a dossier that uncovered previously unknown or overlooked material. His screenplay also featured a man of menace--Byron De La Beckwith--and partly due to the forceful performance of James Woods in the role, the ambitious film was thrown somewhat off-kilter.<p>Returning to the theme of self-improvement and desiring to move away from home, Colick collaborated with NASA engineer Homer Hickham Jr. on the script for "October Sky" (1999). Initially based on an article by Hickham that appeared in SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE in which the West Virginian told of his youth as a "rocket boy" in a coal mining town. Hickham wanted to be an astronaut but his father expected him to join in working the mines. Colick helped to shape the film, which earned positive reviews and garnered its writer several awards, including a Humanitas Prize and a nomination from the Writers Guild.
born on November 17, 1997
born on July 19, 1992
senior vice president of motion picture production at Propaganda Films