I’ve been sent a copy of Richard Corinder‘s The Shark is Not Working, a Black List script about 28 year-old Steven Spielberg going through hell to make Jaws in ’74 and ’75. I’ve skimmed through about half of it. It’s funny, smart, very well-written, entertaining. But I mainly like it because it simultaneously (a) makes fun of Spielberg for being a talented but shallow popcorn shoveller, and (b) admires and sympathizes with the poor guy for managing to survive a hellish production experience. The big breakthrough happens when Spielberg hits on the idea of (a) barely showing the shark and (b) deciding to rely on John Williams‘ creepy music to excite the audience’s imagination.
As noted earlier there’s a competing “Spielberg-making Jaws” script called The Mayor of Shark City, written by Nick Creature and Michael Sweeney. Specscout coverage says it’s pretty good. Spielberg is hungry to make Jaws in the Sweeney-Creature, but he’s reluctant to direct it and is basically pressured into taking the directorial reins in the Corinder version. The Sweeney-Creature seems to focus more on Spielberg’s difficulty with original Jaws author Peter Benchley in the development of the script, but I’ve only read the coverage so what do I know? Nothing.
The making-of-Jaws saga is a helluva Hollywood yarn. It was originally told in a 1995 Laurent Bouzereau documentary, “The Making of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws,” which ran two hours and is included on the Universal Home Video Jaws Bluray.
32 years ago Tootsie director Sydney Pollack pieced together four or five different versions of the Tootsie script (by different authors) to make a semi-coherent whole. 40-plus years ago Sterling Silliphant merged two burning-skyscraper novels (The Tower, The Glass Inferno) into a single script called The Towering Inferno. Maybe the two Spielberg projects could come together in a similar way?