Talk about Psycho...

Reading Lyn Gardner's story in the Guardian about the tyranny of playwrights' estates over reinterpretations of well-known texts, I'm all the more shocked and awed that Gus Van Sant wanted to do his shot-for-shot remake of Psycho.

The film world has a nearly diametrically opposed view of remakes from the theater, which shows in the different perceptions of The Text. For dead mens' plays, the text is all, sacrosanct; for studio films, the script--and the writers--are cogs that get replaced as soon as they show signs of wear or sticking. As I prepare to buy the film rights to a novel from the author's estate, I'm sweating the interpretation/adaptation process. One saving grace: the author's children now work in the film and TV business.

Here's my off-the-cuff advice for you playwrights who don't want their creative legacy snuffed out by visionless accountants: create an advisory panel or artists, playwrights, theater people, creative people, who will decide how and when your works get reinterpreted, sampled, and reformulated after you're dead. They'll serve for limited terms, so you can get new blood and new perspectives with each generation. Perhaps such an organization could be created by, like, the Artists Rights Society, and they'll provide artistic evaluations into the future. You can choose how daring or conservative you want them to be. Just a thought. 'night.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

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first published: December 13, 2003.

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