Podcast: Tower Heist Screenwriters Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson

Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy in Tower Heist

Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy in Tower Heist

How do you balance comedy and plot? Several comedic voices and big action sequences? Veteran screenwriters Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Terminal, Rush Hour 2) and Ted Griffin (Ocean’s Eleven, Matchstick Men, Killers, Rumor Has It) sat down with Script to talk about their new action comedy, Tower Heist, releasing November 4.

The film is about an uptight building manager and his team of misfit friends who decide to rob a millionaire in order to win back their stolen pension money. Tower Heist stars Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Tea Leoni, and Gabourey Sidibe.

Podcast highlights include:

  • “The key to writing is rewriting and revisions …”
  • “That first draft is most likely five to six drafts away from being that final draft …”
  • How to avoid writing to the joke.
  • How to track multiple characters in plot and comedy.

Click below to listen:

11 thoughts on “Podcast: Tower Heist Screenwriters Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson

  1. Kim Wheeler

    Oo, I will take a listen ASAP. Thank you for that Jenna and for your kind words of encouragement.
    Funnily enough, I have just finished reading the screenplay of The King’s Speech and was quite shocked as to how far away from the finished article both story and dialogue appear to be. It was an interesting lesson to learn. It is clear to me why the basic story was kept the same but far more of an onus placed on the interaction between the major players. Much more polished – A worthwhile exercise indeed!

  2. Jason

    The dialogue is the best aspect of the Tower Heist movie. Jeff Nathanson writes good comedy dialogue as he has done in Rush Hour movies. Leoni’s character inspires Ben to become more assertive instead of taking orders as a passive manager.

    The script works; however, the heist seems impossible given the fact that two former employees and an evicted tennant can walk into a high security building. Ocean’s 11 is more plausible with planning the casino job through recruiting members with skills.

    The Tower Heist is more about inducing a laugh rather than character development. In any case, former UCSB alumni Jeff Nathanson continues to write great scripts for moneymaking movies.

  3. Kim Wheeler

    Thanks so much for this Jenna. It is great to hear for free from those living the Hollywood dream. As a fifty-something, English newbie to screenwriting, it is often daunting to even consider approaching legendary icons who are ‘in the know’ in California. So it is great to hear through these podcasts that you are all only human after all! Good to hear that it can take six or more drafts to get a screenplay to anywhere approaching a respectable standard. I’ve just finished my seventh complete re-write and am busy beavering away on the eighth. Hopefully getting closer. Never give up eh?! Keep up the good work, Jenna.

  4. Leah Reyes-Ramos

    When you’re looking for inspiration in anything and anywhere a podcast like this is welcome. Thank you for making available. I’m a stay at home mom who’s been dreaming of writing for a long time. I write but mostly thoughts. And I read a lot. And Believe in time as the Twilight and Harry Potter authors good things come … Awesome.

  5. Pingback: Tower Heist Screenwriters Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson « jennamilly

  6. Jenna MillyJenna Milly Post author

    Hi Kristin, sorry about the audio quality. The writers were practically in a metal box, but we were happy to get just a few minutes of their precious time. Will try to fix in the future!
    Patrick — Thanks so much! Tell all your friends. 🙂

  7. Patrick Mahon

    Thank you for these podcasts, Jenna. I’m a novice screenwriter and find them genuinely inspiring and informative. Not to mention: free!

    Love that they said “Dialogue is the frosting, not the cake.” This feels truthful to me and is an often overlooked point. I remember once reading Hitchcock say: “Once the script has been written, and the dialogue has been added, then we are ready to shoot.”

    Keep up the good work.

  8. Kristin Rowe Meche

    The content is great, but the sound is awful. The writers sound like they’re on a speaker phone inside a metal box. I hope technology can improve your audio in the future.

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