Roth, Eric (R.)
ROTH, Eric (R.)
PERSONAL: Born in New York, NY; son of Leon (a film producer and university teacher) and Miriam "Mimi" (a radio writer, studio executive, and teacher) Roth; children: six.
ADDRESSES: Agent—David O'Connor, Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212-1804.
CAREER: Screenwriter. Creator of television series The Heights, Fox, 1992; appeared in episodes of television series, including (as Olive Loaf) "Veronica's Drag," Veronica's Closet, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1998; and (as sales guy) "Love plus One," Will & Grace, NBC, 2000; also appeared as a waiter in an episode of Providence, NBC.
(With Michael Mann) Ali: The Movie and the Man, photographs by Frank Connor, Newmarket Press (New York, NY), 2001.
To Catch a Pebble (also known as Please Whisper MyName), WorldWide Pictures, 1970.
The Nickel Ride, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1975.
(Uncredited; with Tracy Keenan Wynn, Lorenzo Semple Jr., and Walter Hill) The Drowning Pool (based on the novel by Ross MacDonald), Warner Bros., 1975.
(With Jennings Lang) The Concorde: Airport '79 (also known as Airport '79, Airport '80: The Concorde, and S.O.S. Concorde; based on the novel Airport, by Arthur Hailey), 1979.
(Uncredited; with Joseph Wambaugh) The Onion Field, Avco-Embassy, 1979. (Uncredited; with David Eyre and Michael Wadleigh) Wolfen (based on the novel by Whitley Strieber), Orion, 1981.
Suspect (produced by TriStar, 1987), published as Suspect: The Screenplay, Harvest Moon, 2000.
(With Billy Crystal) Memories of Me, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1988.
(With Michael Cristofer) Mr. Jones, TriStar, 1993.
Forrest Gump (based on the novel by Winston Groom), Paramount, 1994.
(With Brian Helgeland) The Postman (based on the novel by David Brin), Warner Bros., 1997.
(With Richard LaGravenese) The Horse Whisperer (based on the novel by Nicholas Evans), Buena Vista, 1998.
(With Michael Mann) The Insider (based on the article "The Man Who Knew Too Much," by Marie Brenner), Buena Vista, 1999.
(With others) Ali, Columbia, 2001.
Lucky You, 2005.
The Good Shepherd, 2005.
A Cold Case (based on the novel by Philip Gourevitch), 2005.
Also author of Slow Waltz at Cedar Bend, based on a novel by Robert James Waller. Author of an untitled screenplay of a Steven Spielberg 1972 Olympics project, due 2006; uncredited contributor, according to some sources, to Apollo 13, Universal, 1995.
(As Eric R. Roth) Strangers in 7A (movie; based on the novel by Fieldan Farrington), Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 1972.
Hearts Are Wild (pilot; also known as Jack of Hearts and Jack's House), Columbia Broadcasting System, 1992.
Jane's House (movie; based on the novel by Robert Kimmel Smith), Columbia Broadcasting System, 1994.
Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: Screenwriter Eric Roth is the unsung hero behind several blockbuster films, including Forrest Gump and The Horse Whisperer. His biggest success may be the former film, a 1994 blockbuster about a slow-witted but good-hearted Southern man who accidentally finds himself in pivotal roles in many of the major historical events of the Baby Boom generation. The film was adapted from a novel of the same name by Winston Groom, but Roth made several significant changes in his screenplay, converting "his outlandish story . . . from rough satire to a smooth fable about courage, decency and luck," as John Leo wrote in U.S. News & World Report. Perhaps the most notable revision was in Forrest Gump's catchphrase, which Roth changed from the depressing "Bein' a idiot is no box of chocolates" to the inspiring "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
Roth's next film, The Postman, was a flop, but "mention must be made of the wit in this screenplay," declared National Review critic John Simon. In fact, most of the blame for The Postman's failings went to star and director Kevin Costner, while Roth and cowriter Brian Helgeland were credited with giving the script hints of a "welcome self-awareness," in the words of Entertainment Weekly reviewer Lisa Schwarzbaum, and "attempt[ing] to undercut some cloying moments with sly humor," according to Variety critic Todd McCarthy.
Like Forrest Gump and The Postman, the script for The Horse Whisperer was adapted from a novel. Robert Redford directed and starred as the title character, a rancher with skill in taming skittish horses. A rich New York magazine editor, played by Kristin Scott Thomas, packs up her daughter and her horse and takes them to Redford to heal after the two are seriously injured in a collision with a truck, hoping that he can make the traumatized horse rideable again, and perhaps help her daughter to heal emotionally as well. Roth's screenplay was widely praised for the way that it took Nicholas Evans's "schematic melodrama" and made "an exquisitely crafted, morally and thematically mature picture" about "physical and spiritual regeneration," in the words of McCarthy. As another reviewer commented in People, the film "is smarter, subtler and more sexually restrained . . . than its sappy bestselling source material."
Roth was one of several screenwriters who worked on Ali, a film about heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali. Because Ali was so complex of a figure, doing a complete biography of him in one film would have been impossible; Ali limits itself to a single decade, 1964 to 1974. As well, the film's creators were "aiming not for documentary thoroughness but for an impressionistic portrait that combines bold brush strokes with telling detail," as McCarthy put it. "Though the film might not have the more obvious dramatic and emotional payoffs one might get from a more conventionally crafted biopic," Kevin Lally wrote in Film Journal International, its "free-flowing style seems appropriate to a life this full of incident and touching on so many aspects of American culture and history."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, August 13, 1994, Richard A. Blake, review of Forrest Gump, pp. 18-19; June 20, 1998, Richard A. Blake, review of The Horse Whisperer, pp. 26-27.
British Medical Journal, November 6, 1993, Carl Elliot, review of Mr. Jones, pp. 1218-1219.
Business Wire, March 2, 2000, review of The Insider, p. 92.
Christian Century, May 15, 1996, Matthew Giunti, review of Forrest Gump, pp. 547-549.
Cineaste, spring, 2002, Legar Grindon, review of Ali, pp. 32-34.
Commonweal, September 23, 1994, Richard Alleva, review of Forrest Gump, pp. 17-18.
Economist (U.S. edition), July 30, 1994, review of Forrest Gump, p. A28.
Entertainment Weekly, October 22, 1993, Owen Gleiberman, review of Mr. Jones, p. 58; April 15, 1994, Ty Burr, review of Mr. Jones, pp. 64-65; May 5, 1995, Glenn Kenny, review of Forrest Gump, pp. 76-77; January 9, 1998, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of The Postman, pp. 43-44; May 22, 1998, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of The Horse Whisperer, p. 44; November 6, 1998, Mike D'Angelo, review of The Horse Whisperer, p. 94; November 5, 1999, Owen Gleiberman, review of The Insider, p. 46; May 15, 2000, Steve Daly, review of Forrest Gump, p. 68; May 3, 2002, Daniel Fierman, review of Ali, p. 67.
Film Journal International, January, 2002, Harry Haun, review of Ali, pp. 10-11, Kevin Lally, review of Ali, pp. 36-37.
Film Quarterly, summer, 2002, Clifford Thompson, review of Ali, pp. 46-48.
Hollywood Reporter, December 17, 2001, Kirk Honeycutt, review of Ali, pp. 6-7.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, July 29, 1994, Stephen Lynch, review of Forrest Gump, p. 0729K2350; December 21, 2001, Carrie Rickey, review of Ali, p. K1190; September 6, 2002, Jay Boyar, review of Forrest Gump, p. K4966.
Los Angeles, November, 1999, James Greenberg, review of The Insider, p. 50.
Maclean's, August 22, 1994, Fred Bruning, review of Forrest Gump, p. 9; November 8, 1999, Brian D. Johnson, review of The Insider, p. 86.
Nation, September 5, 1994, Stuart Klawans, review of Forrest Gump, pp. 249-251; December 6, 1999, Stuart Klawans, review of The Insider, p. 50.
National Review, August 29, 1994, John Simon, review of Forrest Gump, pp. 62-63; January 26, 1998, John Simon, review of The Postman, p. 52; June 22, 1998, John Simon, review of The Horse Whisperer, pp. 63-64; December 6, 1999, John Simon, review of The Insider, p. 71; January 28, 2002, Jonah Goldberg, review of Ali.
New Republic, November 8, 1993, Stanley Kauffmann, review of Mr. Jones, pp. 32-33; August 8, 1994, Stanley Kauffmann, review of Forrest Gump, p. 28; June 15, 1998, Stanley Kauffmann, review of The Horse Whisperer, pp. 26-27; January 21, 2002, Stanley Kauffmann, review of Ali, p. 20.
New Statesman, August 12, 1994, Jonathan Romney, review of Forrest Gump, p. 33; October 14, 1994, Jonathan Romney, review of Forrest Gump, p. 41; August 28, 1998, Gerald Kaufman, review of The Horse Whisperer, pp. 42-43.
Newsweek, May 18, 1998, Jeff Giles, review of TheHorse Whisperer, p. 74; November 8, 1999, David Ansen, review of The Insider, p. 98; December 24, 2001, David Ansen, review of Ali, p. 40.
New York Times, May 15, 1998, Janet Maslin, review of The Horse Whisperer,, p E10; November 5, 1999, Janet Maslin, review of The Insider, p. E1; December 25, 2001, Elvis Mitchell, review of Ali, p. E1.
New York Times Upfront, December 10, 2001, Allen Barra, review of Ali, pp. 16-17.
People, October 25, 1993, Joanne Kaufman, review of Mr. Jones, p. 24; May 25, 1998, review of The Horse Whisperer, p. 31.
Spectator, February 16, 2002, Marcus Berkman, review of Ali, pp. 50-51.
Tikkun, March, 2000, Thane Rosenbaum, review of The Insider, p. 79.
Time, May 18, 1998, Richard Schickel, review of TheHorse Whisperer, p. 86; November 1, 1999, Richard Corliss, review of The Insider, p. 98; December 24, 2001, Jess Cagle, review of Ali, p. 68.
U.S. News and World Report, August 8, 1994, John Leo, review of Forrest Gump, p. 22.
Variety, December 22, 1997, Todd McCarthy, review of The Postman, pp. 57-58; May 4, 1998, Todd McCarthy, review of The Horse Whisperer, pp. 83-84; December 17, 2001, Todd McCarthy, review of Ali, pp. 35-36.
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (August 27, 2003), "Eric Roth."*