Norman, Marc 1941-
NORMAN, Marc 1941-
PERSONAL: Born February 10, 1941, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Harry Fisher and Molly (Gillis) Norman; married Dale Moore (a psychotherapist), 1967; children: Zachary, Alexander (twins). Education: University of California, Berkeley, M.A., 1964.
CAREER: Author, screenwriter, and producer. Screenwriter for films, including Oklahoma Crude, Columbia, 1973; Zandy's Bride, Warner Bros., 1974; The Killer Elite, MGM/UA, 1975; Breakout, Columbia/Tristar, 1975; The Challenge, Embassy, 1982; The Aviator, MGM/UA, 1985; Bat 21, Anchor Bay, 1988; Cutthroat Island, Artisan, 1995. Screenwriter and producer for film Shakespeare in Love, Miramax, 1998.
Screenwriter for television movies, including Five Desperate Women, American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (ABC), 1971, and The Challenge, 1970.
Author of screen story for "The Innocent," Mission: Impossible, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 1970.
MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Academy Award, best screenplay written directly for the screen and best picture, L.A. Film Critics Association Award, best screenplay, Golden Globe Award, best screenplay and best picture, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, best original screenplay, Golden Satellite Award, best picture, Writers Guild of America Award, best screenplay written directly for the screen, Fennecus Award, best screenplay, Apex Scroll Award, best picture and best original screenplay for a comedy, all 1998, all for Shakespeare in Love; Berlin Film Festival Award, best single achievement (for the screenplay), British Academy Award, both 1999, both for Shakespeare in Love.
Bike Riding in Los Angeles (nonfiction), Dutton (New York, NY), 1973.
Fool's Errand (novel), Holt, Rinehart, & Winston (New York, NY), 1978.
screenplays for television
"The Innocent," Mission: Impossible, CBS, 1970.
Five Desperate Women, ABC, 1971.
screenplays for cinema
Oklahoma Crude, Columbia, 1973, published by Dutton (New York, NY), 1973.
Zandy's Bride (adapted from the novel The Stranger by Lillian Bos Ross), Warner Bros., 1974.
The Killer Elite, MGM/UA, 1975.
Breakout, Columbia/Tristar, 1975.
The Challenge, Embassy, 1982.
The Aviator (based on a novel by Ernest Gann), MGM/UA, 1985.
Bat 21, Anchor Bay, 1988.
Cutthroat Island, Artisan, 1995.
(With Tom Stoppard) Shakespeare in Love (Miramax, 1998), Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.
Also screenwriter for the television movie The Challenge, 1970.
SIDELIGHTS: Marc Norman is the screenwriter and producer of the Oscar-winning film Shakespeare in Love, a romantic comedy set in Elizabethan England that attempts to answer the question, "What inspired William Shakespeare?" Prior to the overwhelming success of Shakespeare in Love and Norman's own award-winning writing, he worked as a screenwriter on a number of films for cinema and television, including an episode of the Mission: Impossible television series.
One of Norman's earliest films, Oklahoma Crude, stars Faye Dunaway as a woman intent on drilling for oil on her Oklahoma property. She hires a man played by George C. Scott to drill for the oil, and the two find themselves battling large oil firms to keep control of the land. They manage to hold on to the land, finally striking oil and earning bids from several oil companies wishing to pump oil. Norman penned both the dramatic screenplay for the movie and the book by the same name. Also set in the dusty ranches of the West is Zandy's Bride. Norman wrote the screenplay based on the Lillian Bos Ross novel, The Stranger. The movie stars Gene Hackman as rancher Zandy Allan, who is in search of extra help on his land, which he receives by ordering a bride from Sweden. When the headstrong Hannah arrives, Zandy is not prepared for her forceful ways. The odd couple works its way through some difficult times, eventually falling in love.
Norman's next movie, The Killer Elite, stars James Caan as a retired CIA agent who was injured by his former partner but returns to the line of duty to protect a political leader named Yuen Chung. Robert Duvall plays Caan's old partner, the man hired to assassinate Chung. The final battle pits the ex-partners against one another. Duvall also appears in another Norman movie, Breakout. In the film, Duvall plays a prisoner in a South American country, and Charles Bronson stars as the pilot attempting to rescue him. Norman, who is an acrobatic pilot, demonstrated his knowledge of aviation in both Breakout and The Aviator. Christopher Reeve stars in The Aviator as a pilot whose facial scar is a constant reminder of his recent crash. Rosanna Arquette stars as a rich, spoiled woman whom the pilot agrees to carry with him on one of his flights. When the plane crashes, the two must put aside their petty arguments and fend for their lives in the dangerous mountains.
Norman's next screenplay, Bat 21, starring Gene Hackman as Lt. Colonel Iceal Hambleton, is based on a true story and takes place during the Vietnam War. Hambleton crashes his plane in the midst of Vietnamese military forces and must struggle for survival. In his screenplay for the film Cutthroat Island, Norman tells the story of a female pirate named Morgan Adams, played by Geena Davis, who is in search of the rest of a treasure map left behind by her father. Morgan battles her uncle and other pirates with the help of a slave named William Shaw, all while under the watchful eye of a British newspaper reporter.
While Norman has many film credits to his name, none have garnered the attention or the critical acclaim of his most celebrated work, Shakespeare in Love. As coauthor of the screenplay, Norman helps tell the fictional story of a young Will Shakespeare (played by Joseph Fiennes), a playwright struggling to write a play that will gain him recognition. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Viola De Lesseps, the beautiful woman who dreams of acting in a play, very much against the rules of the Elizabethan era. Viola, however, dresses as a man named Thomas Kent and auditions for Will's newest play titled "Romeo and Ethel, The Pirate's Daughter." As Will and Viola gradually grow closer, Will's play is enlivened with new passion. Will knows that he and Viola cannot be together when the play ends, but their affair helps him transform his work into the tragic love story of the star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.
According to Timothy Dykstal of the National Forum, Norman conceived of the idea for Shakespeare in Love while his son was studying Elizabethan drama in school. Norman paired with screenwriter Tom Stoppard to work on the script. Together, they combined the general storyline with some traditional Shakespearean themes and several excerpts from Shakespeare's original works. They added the few facts actually known about Shakespeare and sprinkled in some of the myths as well. ReelViews critic James Berardinelli commented, "Numerous aspects of the script are peppered with elements from the Bard's plays: mistaken identities, transvestites, ghosts, poetry, and significant chunks of dialogue from Romeo and Juliet." Berardinelli continued, "Stoppard and Norman's script seamlessly blends comedy, romance, and light drama." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times noted in his review, "I was carried along by the wit, the energy, and a surprising sweetness." According to Rob Blackwelder of the SPLICEDwire Web site, Shakespeare in Love is "a comedic and romantic masterpiece that would make Shakespeare proud."
Shakespeare in Love won Academy Awards for best picture and best screenplay written directly for the screen. A reviewer for New Straits Times called Shakespeare in Love "a wonderfully conceived and brilliantly executed romantic comedy," noting that Norman and Stoppard "cleverly tie in literary allusions and many of the fiercely debated facts surrounding [Shakespeare's] life into the narrative." Norman told Robert Elisberg in an interview on the Absolute Write Web site, that he "like[s] to make up worlds and populate them." Norman said, "I like inventing people and putting them in settings so finely drawn that the viewer, for some short period of time, forgets he or she is looking at an artifice and thinks it's real. That's my performance. That's my, for lack of a better word, magic."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Best Sellers, August, 1978, review of Fool's Errand, p. 145.
Christian Science Monitor, May 24, 1978, review of Fool's Errand, p. 23.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 1978, review of Fool's Errand, p. 197.
Library Journal, May 15, 1978, review of Fool's Errand, p. 1082.
National Forum, summer, 1999, Timothy Dykstal, review of Shakespeare in Love, p. 41.
New Statesman, January 29, 1999, David Jays, review of Shakespeare in Love, p. 39.
New Straits Times, January 2, 2001, "Endearing Tale of the Bard's Muse."
Observer (London, England), September 3, 1978, review of Fool's Errand, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, March 27, 1978, review of Fool's Errand, p. 67.
Variety, December 7, 1998, Lael Loewenstein, review of Shakespeare in Love, p. 53.
West Coast Review of Books, May, 1978, review of Fool's Errand, p. 36.
Absolute Write Web site,www.absolutewrite.com/ (June 2, 2003), Robert J. Elisberg, "Interview with Marc Norman."
Chicago Sun-Times Web site,www.suntimes.com/ (June 2, 2003), Roger Ebert, review of Shakespeare in Love.
Fennec Awards Database,awards.fennec.org/ (February 18, 2004), list of Academy, Golden Globe, Satellite, Guild, Fennecus, and Apex awards for Marc Norman.
Filmtracks Web site,www.filmtracks.com/ (June 2, 2003), review of music in Shakespeare in Love.
Movie Club Web site,www.movieclub.com/ (December 25, 1998), Joe Baltake, "Shakespeare Has Fun with the Bard in Love."
Movies.com Web site,movies.go.com/ (February 18, 2004), Oklahoma Crude and The Challenge.
MSN Entertainment Web site,entertainment.msn.com/ (February 18, 2004).
ReelViews: Movie Review Web site,moviereviews.colossus.net/ (June 2, 2003), James Berardinelli, review of Shakespeare in Love.
SLICEDwire Web site,www.splicedonline.com/ (1998), Rob Blackwelder, "Rosencrantz and Juliet: Tom Stoppard Helps Pen Another Mock Shakespearean Masterpiece."
TV Tome Web site,www.tvtome.com/ (February 18, 2004), Mission: Impossible.*