Tom Jankiewicz, the Michigan-raised screenwriter who wrote the John Cusack comedy Grosse Pointe Blank, died January 23rd at San Bernadino Community Hospital in California it was reported by the Detroit Free Press yesterday. Jankiewicz had collapsed at the end of a question-and-answer session following a screening of the film at California State University, San Bernadino. He was 49.
Raised in the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights, Jankiewicz drew on many elements from his life there for the 1997 comic film about a hitman who returns to his high school’s class reunion and reunites with his former girlfriend. The name of the hitman character’s best friend, played by Jeremy Piven, was originally the name of Jankiewicz’s best friend from high school while his high school’s ten year reunion announcement was used almost word for word in the film. The one thing he didn’t base on real life – a hired killer returning for his class reunion – was the one plot element that became urban legend for actually having happened.
Following Grosse Pointe Blank, Jankiewicz found work as a script doctor on several films. He had spent several years trying to get a project called Kung Fu Theater off the ground. Describing it as a cross between Pleasantville and the Bruce Lee movie Enter The Dragon, the comedy centered on a slacker who finds himself trapped in a 1970s Hong Kong martial arts film. Recently, he had been working on a screenplay about a real-life averted nuclear disaster from the early 1960s, the Goldsboro Broken Arrow incident.