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'Black Swan' Scribe To Present Film, Lectures At SHSU

Nov. 17, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Black Swan posterScreenwriter John McLaughlin will visit Sam Houston State University to discuss with the Bearkat and Huntsville communities his most commercially successful venture so far, “Black Swan,” on Dec. 7-8.

McLaughlin will present a free public screening of the film on Dec. 8 in the Erica Starr Theatre, located in the University Theatre Center. There will be question-and-answer sessions both before and after the screening. The question-and-answer session is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., with the showing of the film to begin at 8 p.m.

McLaughlin, whose screen credits also include 2005’s “Man of the House” and the upcoming “Parker,” was one of three credited screenwriters for “Black Swan” but is considered a key player on the team of writers who scripted this dark drama.

Director Darren Aronofsky approached McLaughlin more than a decade ago to rewrite the project, originally entitled “The Understudy.”

McLaughlin’s major contributions to the effort included researching the notoriously secretive world of professional ballet with Aronofsky, coming up with the final title, devising to use the ballet "Swan Lake" as a basis for the overarching story, and helping Aronofsky create a skeleton for what would finally end up on screen, completing six outlines and four drafts of the film.

McLaughlin has stated that one of Aronofsky's early ideas was to have lead actress Natalie Portman play both the main character Nina and her real-or-imagined rival and tormentor Lily, played by Mila Kunis in the final version.

McLaughlin also has said he always saw "Black Swan" as largely Aronofsky's project, with the director having the final say on the script, which became a collaborative process between the two and two other writers, Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz.

The screenplay won the 2010 Austin Film Critics Award for “Best Original Screenplay” and was nominated in the same category by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Writers Guild of America. It also earned Portman her first Academy Award.

McLauglin lives in New York City and writes for film and television.

His latest film projects include "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho" for Paramount Pictures with actor Sir Anthony Hopkins and "Nip/Tuck" creator Ryan Murphy, "The Man Who Killed Houdini" with Brian DePalma, "Kill Yourself Bridge" with John Carpenter directing, and Tom Clancey's "Splinter Cell" for Mike Ovitz's production company. He is currently working on a mini-series remake of "Coma" for Ridley and Tony Scott to be aired on A&E, a pilot for SyFy, and a series called "River View Tower" with Aronofosky.

During his visit to campus, McLaughlin will also be inducted into the SHSU’s Mass Communication Department’s Hall of Fame and will present seminars to students in the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication.

“For me, the movie ‘Black Swan’ really represents the new College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication,” said Jean Bodon, chair of the mass communication department, who is personal friends with McLaughlin. “This movie singularizes all the arts put together.

“Specifically for the department of mass communication, we are introducing a film track next fall and we want to emphasize the importance of writing,” he said. “Dan Rather mentioned while he was here that writing is the most important form of communication for students and that they should continually work to improve their writing skills. A celebrated screenwriter coming to SHSU is an important part of encouraging our students to write.”

“I believe that bringing successful guest artists to campus enriches the education of our students,” said Roberta Sloan, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication. “They not only learn a great deal, but also realize that it is possible to dream and succeed as professionals in their chosen fields.”


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