At last year‘s Wizard World Philadelphia comic convention, World War Z author Max Brooks was excited that J. Michael Straczynski was penning the big screen adaptation of his zombie apocalypse novel for Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. As a fan of Straczynski’s science-fiction series Babylon 5, Brooks stated that he was “thrilled that they hired a writer who not only understands science fiction, but who also understands history and politics and emotions.”
In the intervening 12 months between then and this afternoon, Straczynski had turned in two drafts and Quantum Of Solace director Marc Forster was attached to the project. And in the last few days, reports have begun circulating that Forster feels that the script needs further work and is looking for a new writer.
Brooks confirmed that this was the situation earlier today, when we talked to him on the convention floor at this year’s Wizard World Philadelphia convention. Brooks was appearing to help promote the upcoming publication of his Zombie Survival Guide graphic novel coming in October from Avatar Press and Random House.
“I believe they have a new writer on board,” Brooks stated. Then adding with a hint of sarcasm, “Because you know, Straczynski apparently can’t write science-fiction, so naturally they need a new guy.”
But besides knowing that a new screenwriter is being brought aboard, Brooks confesses to not knowing too much more about what is going on behind the scenes with the film.
“It’s still rolling along,” he said. “They renewed the option on it, so apparently they still want to make it. But that’s about all I know.”
And although he wrote for Saturday Night Live for two seasons, if Plan B were to approach him to take a crack at the screenplay himself, Brooks stated that he would definitely pass on the opportunity.
“Never,” he stated emphatically. “I don’t want to go near that movie. They’re going to kill my baby and I don’t want to help them.”
Update: Straczynski also addressed the issue of the World War Z script this weekend in an online post-
This is just part of the feature business, especially once a director comes on board, who may have ideas of his own that he wants to incorporate and the original writer has gone through all the contractual drafts, so that either you re-hire the same guy, or bring in fresh eyes.
So yes, another pair of hands is now working to simplify the script, which has always been as much a political thriller as an action film, into something a bit more straightforward.
Thanks to Jan S. for pointing us towards the JMS quote.