Pickett, Rex 1952–
Pickett, Rex 1952–
PERSONAL: Born July 9, 1952, in Merced, CA; married. Education: Attended University of Southern California Film School and University of Southern California at San Diego.
CAREER: Author, film director, and editor. Directed and edited film California without End, 1984; and directed From Hollywood to Deadwood, 1989.
AWARDS, HONORS: Academy Award for Best Short Film, 1999, for My Mother Dreams the Devil's Disciples in New York.
California without End (screenplay), 1984.
From Hollywood to Deadwood (screenplay), 1989.
My Mother Dreams the Devil's Disciples in New York (short screenplay), 1998.
Sideways (novel), St. Martin's/Griffin (New York, NY), 2004.
ADAPTATIONS: Sideways was adapted as an Academy Award-nominated film, directed by Alexander Payne, 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Road Back, for St. Martin's Press.
SIDELIGHTS: Screenwriter and novelist Rex Pickett discovered writing in high school, when a humorous poem he wrote for the school annual garnered attention. When he was in his twenties, he finally considered making a career as a writer, encouraged by his roommate, who had an idea for a movie. Pickett wrote the script, then gave it to an acquaintance who was a Hollywood screenwriter. The friend in turn passed the work on to a well-known agent, who, although he liked it, felt it was not sufficiently polished and asked to see something else. Pickett's subsequent offering was not nearly as good, but the incident had peaked his interest in writing for film, and so he enrolled in the University of Southern California Film School. When he found that to be a poor fit, he dropped out and went on to study film at the University of California at San Diego.
Pickett's first film, California without End, is about a filmmaker dark experiences after he meets a woman and goes on a road trip with her from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Although never released in theaters, the film was eventually sold to German television. Pickett based much of the story on his own film school background, which taught him to regard film as art that deals in personal expression. In an interview with Daphne Charette on the Screenplayers.net, Pickett admitted: "now that's a liability. But, back then, it was a desideratum." Despite acknowledging that film is an industry, Pickett told Charette, "I think writing as a career comes after writing as a life. But then I'm old-fashioned in the sense that I believe first in the innate need to write—in whatever form—and then whatever happens happens."
Pickett wrote the novel Sideways during a period when he had decided he no longer wanted to write screenplays. His agent had died of AIDS, and so he felt it was a good time to make a change. His first attempt at fiction was actually the mystery story, "La Purisima." "La Purisima" was rejected by the major publishing houses, however, and so Pickett went to work on a comic project called Sideways.
Sideways follows two buddies on a pre-wedding road trip to Santa Ynez, California. Miles, a struggling writer, is a wine snob who has scheduled a rigorous route of wine tastings, while Jack, the groom-to-be, is more interested in sewing the last of his wild oats. Conflict arises when the men meet two attractive women and the trip's priorities shift. A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that "Pickett takes his readers on a jolly ride," while Misha Stone, in a review for Booklist, wrote that "Pickett plays the sex-and-the-single man angle for all its worth here, nodding occasionally at such larger themes as friendship and romance."
Sideways read so much like a film that Taylor recommended they submit it for film rights first. For several months, there was little buzz; then director Alexander Payne read a copy of Sideways and optioned the film. The resulting movie garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture in 2004.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2004, Misha Stone, review of Sideways, p. 1704.
Business Wire, February 14, 2005, "Sideways Author, Rex Pickett, Visits Paso Robles Wine Country March 19-21."
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of Sideways, p. 357.
Publishers Weekly, May 17, 2004, review of Sideways, p. 33; February 7, 2005, Jason Anthony, "You Could Call It a Lateral Move" p. 14.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (February 24, 2005), Harriet Klausner, review of Sideways.
Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (February 24, 2005), "Rex Pickett."
Screenplayers.net, http://www.screenplayers.net/ (February 24, 2005), Daphne Charette, interview with Pickett.