Script doctor

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A script doctor, also called a script consultant,[1] is a screenwriter or playwright hired by a film, television or theatre production to rewrite an existing script or polish specific aspects of it, including structure, characterization, dialogue, pacing, theme, and other elements.[2]

Script doctors generally do their work uncredited, for a variety of commercial and artistic reasons.[2][3][4] They are usually brought in for scripts that have almost been "green-lit",[5] during the development and pre-production phases of a film, to address specific issues with the script, as identified by the financiers, production team, and cast.[6]

Under the Writers Guild of America screenwriting credit system, a screenwriter must contribute more than 50 percent of an original screenplay or 33 percent of an adaptation to receive credit.[6] Uncredited screenwriters are not eligible to win the Academy Award for Best Screenplay or the Writers Guild of America Awards.

People considered script doctors[edit]

Many screenwriters have been called "script doctors" for doing uncredited work on screenplays, some of which are known:

Notable script doctors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Honthaner, Eve Light (2005). Hollywood Drive: What It Takes To Break In, Hang In & Make It In The Entertainment Industry. Burlington: Focal Press. pp. 87–88. ISBN 0240806689. 
  2. ^ a b Jones, Sarah (2004). Film. North Mankato: Smart Apple Media. pp. 14–15. ISBN 158340256X. 
  3. ^ Hyman, Paula E. and Moore, Deborah Dash, ed. (1998). Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge. p. 444. ISBN 0415919363. "Currently [Fisher] works in that great uncredited Hollywood profession of script doctor—or, as Fisher calls it, script nurse." 
  4. ^ a b Hurd, Mary G. (2007). Women Directors and Their Films. Westport: Praeger Publishers. p. 150. ISBN 0275985784. "She [Elaine May] then became a script doctor, one of a small group of writers who are paid handsome fees by studios to do uncredited work on a script." 
  5. ^ Appleton, Dina; Yankelevits, Daniel (2010). Hollywood Dealmaking: Negotiating Talent Agreements for Film, TV and New Media (2 ed.). New York: Allworth Press. p. 303. ISBN 1581156715. "A writer hired to 'spruce up' or 'fix' a script, usually by inserting jokes or otherwise adding some 'juice'. These highly paid writers are often hired by studios for brief periods of employment, most often to work on scripts that are very close to being 'green-lit'." 
  6. ^ a b Abramowitz, Rachel (October 27, 2002). "To the rescue?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ Erickson, Hal (2010). "Al Boasberg - About This Person". The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  8. ^ Booker, M. Keith (2011). Historical Dictionary of American Cinema. Lanham: Scarecrow Press. p. 164. ISBN 0810871920. 
  9. ^ Phillips, Gene D. (2012). Out of the Shadows: Expanding the Canon of Classic Film Noir. Lanham: Scarecrow Press. p. 88. ISBN 081088190X. 
  10. ^ Spicer, Andrew (2010). Historical Dictionary of Film Noir. Lanham: Scarecrow Press. pp. 129–130. ISBN 0810859602. "He became a Hollywood screenwriter from 1926, valued highly for his contemporary, idiomatic, and vivid prose, and as a ruthless and effective 'script doctor', having a hand in many films noir for which he was uncredited..." 
  11. ^ Kashner, Sam; Schoenberger, Nancy (2010). Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century. New York: HarperCollins. p. 13. ISBN 006156284X. 
  12. ^ a b c Morris, Mark (November 29, 1999). "Get me Tom Stoppard". The Guardian. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  13. ^ Biskind, Peter (1998). Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 158. ISBN 0684857081. 
  14. ^ Turan, Kenneth (November 27, 1988). "Robert Towne's Hollywood Without Heroes". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  15. ^ Koski, Genevieve (May 15, 2008). "Raiders Of The Lost Ark". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 17, 2012. "Spielberg said, in an 2005 interview with Empire magazine, 'Tom is pretty much responsible for every line of dialogue [in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade]. '​ " 
  16. ^ Nashawty, Chris (November 19, 1999). "Sleepy Hollow: A Head of its Time". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 17, 2012. "On the other hand, it doesn't hurt that Sleepy Hollow '​s script—credited to Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven)—received a stealthy stem-to-stern overhaul from Shakespeare in Love '​s Oscar-winning screenwriter Tom Stoppard." 
  17. ^ a b c Lawson, Mark (April 14, 2010). "Tom Stoppard: 'I'm the crank in the bus queue'". The Guardian. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Rapkin, Mickey (October 18, 2007). "Tom Stoppard". Time Out New York. Retrieved August 16, 2012. 
  19. ^ Nelson, Valerie J. (August 3, 2010). "Tom Mankiewicz dies at 68; screenwriter for James Bond, Superman films". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 16, 2012. "Tom Mankiewicz, a screenwriter and premier script doctor..." 
  20. ^ Konow, David (June 26, 2012). "Think You Know Hollywood? You Don’t Know Mank". Script Magazine. Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  21. ^ a b c McNamara, Jonathan (April 29, 2008). "Carrie Fisher on Spy in the House of Me, Tinkerbell and being the movie industry's best script doctor". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b Cagle, Jess (May 29, 1992). "The Prayer". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 16, 2012. 
  23. ^ Nick De Semlyen, The Life And Death Of Last Action Hero, Empire (269) 
  24. ^ a b Setoodeh, Ramin (December 18, 2008). "Being Carrie Fisher". Newsweek. Retrieved August 16, 2012. 
  25. ^ Lawrence, Will (October 11, 2010). "Facebook movie The Social Network tells a Shakespearean tale of money, power and betrayal". The Herald. Retrieved August 16, 2012. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ Dawson, Jeff (1995). Quentin Tarantino: The Cinema of Cool. New York: Applause Books. p. 198. ISBN 1557832277. 
  28. ^ Dawson, p. 61.
  29. ^ a b c d Robinson, Tasha (September 5, 2001). "Joss Whedon". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  30. ^ Jacobs, A.J. (April 25, 1997). "Interview with a Vampire Chronicler". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 16, 2012. "Consider that Whedon, an A-list screenwriter and script doctor..."