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Sorkin Talks The Social Network at Harvard Q & A

Thompson on Hollywood By L.M. Kit Carson | Thompson on Hollywood September 23, 2010 at 4:30AM

Sony is marketing the hell out of The Social Network which opens the New York Film Festival Friday night (with Harvard Club after party) and opens wide on October 1. (The NYT offers a rave; author Ben Mezrich talks to LAT, Zuckerberg talks to the NYorker.) They're also hitting the college demo hard, staging screenings in Austin, Texas, which boasts a student population of some 50,000, and at Harvard, natch, where TOH guest blogger L.M. Kit Carson saw the film and reported on the Q & A with writer Aaron Sorkin:
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Thompson on Hollywood

Sony is marketing the hell out of The Social Network which opens the New York Film Festival Friday night (with Harvard Club after party) and opens wide on October 1. (The NYT offers a rave; author Ben Mezrich talks to LAT, Zuckerberg talks to the NYorker.) They're also hitting the college demo hard, staging screenings in Austin, Texas, which boasts a student population of some 50,000, and at Harvard, natch, where TOH guest blogger L.M. Kit Carson saw the film and reported on the Q & A with writer Aaron Sorkin:

Semi-secret student-only Sneak of The Social Nework at The Harvard Film Archive. Jam-up of students around the building starting at 5 PM for the 7:30 PM show. Celphones and celcamphones are confiscated till post-screening by pat-down/scan-down tough tie-wearing Security on each person entering the theater.

In-the-know audience hoots at the beginning Harvard shots. Big laughs recognizing the real places like Mark Zuckerberg’s Dorm KIRKLAND HOUSE. Loud laughs at the movie’s first scene’s last line from Mark Zuckerberg’s girlfriend leaving him in a late-night bar by saying: “Mark- You’re an asshole.” [SPOILER ALERT!] Matched by sad laughs at the movie’s end scene’s last line from Zuckerberg’s paralegal assistant leaving him at night in a Lawyer Conference Room: “Mark- You’re not an asshole – but you try so hard to be one.” Fade out on the Lennon-McCartney classic jingle: “Baby You’re a Rich Man”.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin breaks open the Q & A bluntly by noting the youth of his questioners: “Don’t call me Mr. Sorkin – OK, I’m not that old – Aaron is fine or Doc or Ace…” (Nobody called him “Ace” – but the First Questioner mutters: “-uh, good work-“ and the audience explodes in applause.)

Sorkin quickly acknowledges that he wrote this major Internet-story with a personal anti-Internet attitude: “I don’t know if you notice this – but every once in a while, say every once in a great while – there is some very incorrect mis-information offered as real on the Internet.”

AS: “This movie’s story is built on classic elements like Friendship and Loyalty and Betrayal – like what’s written by guys like Shakespeare or Aeschuylus or Chayefsky – but they weren’t available. So I got the job.”

AS: “Putting me and David Fincher together was a counter-intuitive move. But David embraced that the method of doing this story was telling it mostly by words. But he insisted to the studio that once we got together a first draft – that’s what they would greenlight. There was never really a second draft on the script. Because David wanted to keep hold of the idiosyncratic way that I’d make the scenes work.”

AS: “David was a very knowing-me collaborator. Like, I knew exactly how the movie was going to start – a guy and his girlfriend – 2 college sophomores – arguing in a bar. So I took a first shot at 2003 Harvard-World dialogue…” Sorkin mock-hip-gestures with both hands: “…wat- wat-..” – and (laughs)… and it was a disaster! So David suggests: “Just write it in your own voice – that’ll work.”

AS: “We chose to set the middle of the movie in the triple-lawsuit Deposition Room. Because this way dramatizes clearly there is doubt in the telling the truth of this tale. 3 different versions of what actually did happen. We got all the transcripts, all the emails. Each lawsuit basically won. And I wanted to keep and show all 3 – do the Rashomon Way. Go with that.”

Harvarders left the movie snickering, chattering at this night’s story of Internet Infamy. And this upcoming Friday on the Oprah Show, the world’s youngest billionaire in history, infamous 26-year-old Mark Zuckerberg will pledge $100 million USD to help his home-state New Jersey re-do its state-wide school system.

Yeh- A new global grid of intimacy and information wraps the Earth. We're all connected -- Barcelona-Cape Town-Cambridge -- by this Net. And in a way, this new movie urges seizing this human-connecting-moment before it turns into junk. Go with that.

[Nokia N93 Image by L.M. Kit Carson.]

This article is related to: Directors, Genres, Headliners, Guest Blogger, David Fincher, Biopics


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.