16 years ago: GRAVITY announced on Variety’s front page

Looking through my old files, I came across this headline 1999 article on the front page of VARIETY.  I remember my excitement at the time, the enthusiasm of everyone involved, and all the assurances that GRAVITY was going to be a huge movie.

Now, 16 years later, I think back to the advice I once got from a screenwriting friend: “Hollywood will break your heart.”



New Line has made an outright purchase of the feature film rights to bestselling novelist Tess Gerritsen’s upcoming spacebound medical thriller/love story, “Gravity,” with $1 million up front for the scribe and another $500,000 once the film is produced.

Artists Management Group, the 3-month-old management-production company whose partners are Michael Ovitz, Rick Yorn and Julie Silverman-Yorn, will produce the pic, although the firm’s deal is not yet finalized.

While no writer is attached yet, New Line and AMG view “Gravity” as a major event pic and look to move quickly to put a scribe and all the other elements in place, with an eye toward releasing the film in the summer of 2000 or 2001.

Packaging with home team

AMG will likely package the project with as many of the banner’s clients as possible; Rick Yorn told Daily Variety that he expects to have most of the major above-the-line talent in place within the coming weeks.

The “Gravity” manuscript was brought to Yorn’s and AMG production topper Cathy Schulman’s attention Tuesday by the Renaissance Agency’s Joel Gotler, who brokered the deal on behalf of Gerritsen’s Gotham lit agent, Meg Ruley of the Jane Rotrosen Agency…

At New Line, prexy of production Michael De Luca read the galley, which De Luca describes as “a story with a really good central rooting character and with great commercial potential.”

De Luca then made a preemptive bid to secure the project late Wednesday. He and New Line VP of production Donna Langley will oversee development of the project for the studio.


3 replies
  1. susanj
    susanj says:


    I don’t get it. How are they justifying not paying you anything? They get the intellectual property for free just because they merged with another company? This makes no sense.

    How on earth could any author sell the rights to their work and protect themselves against something like this? Seems like companies would just constantly merge every few years to avoid having to fulfill their contracts. Again, this makes no common sense.

    How can they on one hand say that they own the copyright when totally disregarding the terms of the passing of that copyright from one to another. There has to be some sort of breach of contract remedy available to you as any savvy studio would use this excuse time and again by merging over and over again if nobody stops them from trying to say on the one hand that they get all the dessert without paying the price. It boggles the mind that any judge would let them get away with stealing intellectual property like this.

    In this day and age, I would not only harness the power of attorneys but launch a social media campaign of my own. You’re an excellent writer and much more savvy than the journalists that are getting this wrong. Why don’t you guest post for the New York Times, The Washington Post, Entrepreneur and Forbes?

    Why don’t you ask Sandra Bullock, who earned one of the largest back end deals of her career, as a woman, how she feels knowing that the author whose story enabled her windfall was completely stiffed. Send her that Variety cover. In other words, fight fire with fire and get some support.

    Start a petition with authors and actors etc. who back you.

    Think outside the box.Get a highly skilled PR person.

    Just a thought. This is really not right and anyone can see that it’s big business trying to trample an author. The only “person” not taking your side would be those not wanting to pay you. It’s quite black and white. Even the title is the same, no matter what else they changed.

    Why would anyone ever sell the rights if this is what happens down the line? What language could possibly protect you? Did your lawyers leave something out? I just don’t get how this happened.

    Good luck and hang in there!!! I’d get more vocal but try to control at least some of the message more so that you’re not misquoted.

  2. Jim
    Jim says:

    I see these scams all the time in my line of work. The sad thing is: it takes seconds to steal and years to see any results. The good thing is that California has a legal fast track system unlike other states.

    There is some merit of having a relationship with the Mafia in this instance. There would be a lot of people with broken knees or part of a foundation in a newly constructed building.

    Why don’t you file a complaint against the screenwriters?

    I laugh when I read this in Variety by Cuaron: “The first great film I was exposed to was “The Bicycle Thief.”

    Good luck.

  3. orielkerr
    orielkerr says:

    I am wondering if you have thought about suing Cuaron directly?
    I also think your first poster gave you some good advice to fight back. Simply writing it on your blog doesn’t help the next person from getting screwed.

    It’s very important to expose this for what it is –theft! I am so sorry this happened to you but do hope your story will help expose the corruption in Hollywood. In order to do that, I do think you should bring your story outside this venue and hope you will consider it.

    This whole situation is terrifying to me as a filmmaker and would like to see a change but it needs to begin with all of us exposing the industries corrupt and shady dealings so there aren’t more victims.

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