Before his seminar, I’d not heard of Rosenman, but from the moment he insisted on shaking each participant’s hand as we joined him in the lecture room, I realized he was one of the most amazing people I’d ever met. He didn't quite surpass Raymond Carver, but that's a pretty high bar.
He’s primarily known as one of Hollywood’s most successful producers. He produced the ‘Steve Martin/Diane Keaton/Martin Short version of “Father of the Bride.” He also acted in “Milk” and also has writing credits. His resume is listed in the web site that documents entertainment careers; see http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0742651/
I had been attending the Yale Writing Conference as as a novelist. My book’s protagonist is a screenwriter, so, through the generosity of Terry Hawkins, who ran the conference, and the two screenwriting instructors, Mark LaPadula and Suzanne O’Malley, I was allowed to audit the screenwriting conference.
Rosenman peppered his talk with real-life adventures such as the time Elizabeth Taylor, of whom he was a great fan, was making a movie nearby. He convinced the film company that he’d been hired by the studio to escort Ms. Taylor to her room, and told the studio he’d been hired by the film company. Every day, when the actress was delivered to the hotel by the police, he escorted her to her room. Later the studio and the film company got wise to his ruse, but they were so impressed with how he’d handled himself that they encouraged him to continue. He and Taylor became lifelong friends.
Like many writers, I have ‘pitched’ to agents and editors, but I haven’t embraced the practice. Rosenman cleared up all writers’ questions about whether or not to ‘pitch” by saying, “It’s what we do. You pitch to the agent so that the agent can pitch to the editor, enabling the editor to pitch the advertising department and the publicists, and on and on.” This is a relatively new assignment for writers, who, in better days for writers, expected their agent to handle such trivia. After hearing Howard, I realized today's writers have to get over it and realize it’s part of our jobs. One that demands energy and enthusiasm.
To describe each project’s ‘core idea,’ Rosenman rhetorically asked us what the core idea was for Godfather Part II, which is highly revered by the screenwriting community. When we babbled about, he said, “It’s the story of a Sicilian Family. Every scene concentrates on “is blood thicker than water?” Rosenman made me see the core idea’s importance in every creative work. He helped me see my work through new eyes. The core idea of White Man’s Blues must include the book’s central romance. That new emphasis will mean some rewrites, throughout, to build up the book’s love story. Even though I didn’t initially conceive the work with that emphasis, I now have to dramatize the core idea that love can conquer the problems of an interracial relationship. It won't require much; the romance is there, but I have to emphasize it.
Rosenman capped his visit with the screening of portions of his soon-to-be-released film, “Sparkle,” which stars the late Whitney Houston and promises to be yet another artistic and commercial success.
Causes Kevin Arnold Supports
Poetry Center San Jose, East Palo Alto Police Activities League (EPA PAL), Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Yale Writing Conference, Gold Rush Writers