Marc Norman

Marc Norman

Segueing to the big screen, Norman wrote "Oklahoma Crude" (1973), a well-acted, old-fashioned entertainment featuring Faye Dunaway as a strong-willed owner of an oil well coveted by a tycoon (Jack Palance). The screenwriter even turned his own script into a novel published the same year. He then crafted "Zandy's Bride" (1974), an uneven Western romance centered on a Swedish mail-order bride (Liv Ullmann) and a pioneer (Gene Hackman). After he contributed to two violent actioners, the Charles Bronson vehicle "Breakout" and the James Caan thriller "The Killer Elite" (both 1975), Norman spent the next decade penning scripts that never saw the light of day. In 1985, his screenplay adaptation of Ernest K Gann's novel "The Aviator" attracted a dismal box-office and several negative reviews. Norman then returned to TV as creator and supervising producer of the short-lived police drama "Downtown" (CBS, 1986-87). In 1989, his college student son Zachary suggested an idea for a script about William Shakespeare and the Elizabethan theater. While intrigued, Norman mulled the idea for some time before he actually wrote a draft of the script. He told his neighbor, producer-director Edward Zwick about the idea and Zwick helped him pitch the idea to Universal who purchased it. After Norman completed his version of "Shakespeare in Love," the studio hired Tom Stoppard to "polish" the piece and then set out to attract top-flight talent. In 1992, it was announced that Zwick would direct with Daniel Day-Lewis and Julia Roberts set to star, but delays and scheduling conflicts eventually caused the project put on hold. While other studios eventually began to bid for it, Zwick showed the script to Harvey Weinstein, who responded favorably. Miramax then set about to acquire the property. Zwick again faced scheduling conflicts and had to relinquish the directorial reins to John Madden while Universal decided to co-produced the venture with Miramax. Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow inherited the role of Shakespeare and his muse and the resulting romp received critical kudos, with Norman and Stoppard's script singled out as one of the year's best.