On July 8, the fabulously successful creative team, Jim and Lynn Kouf, will take the City Opera House stage for a Traverse City event to talk about their four decades of writing and producing some of Hollywood’s most popular TV shows and films.
Their current work includes hit NBC thriller drama Grimm and Money Monster, a major motion picture directed by Jody Foster and starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Other films include Rush Hour, Snow Dogs, Treasure Island, Kalifornia and Con Air.
At this National Writers Series event, the Koufs will show clips of their current show, Grimm, just renewed for a sixth season—virtually unheard of nowadays.
They’ll explain how words on the screenwriter’s pages are translated into riveting drama on the screen. Guest host is Benjamin Busch, an author, actor, filmmaker and one of NWS’s favorite interviewers.
The Koufs have been busy at their Montana retreat working with show writers for Grimm’s next season. Lynn was able to take a few minutes to talk about work and industry trends before their Traverse City event.
Where did the idea for Money Monster come from?
Jim was obsessed with Mad Money, a TV show with Jim Cramer. Jim is an amazing investor, and learned everything he needed to know for this show, and he thought what if somebody came onto this set, this crazy set, and held this guy ransom on live television? Like from the Network movie, “I’m not going to take it any more.” What if somebody did that, and what would happen? His original idea was what is a man’s life worth? We went with a producer, he loved it, and ran with it.
What is it that might surprise people most about Hollywood?
How long everything takes to get made. Money Monster took seven years to get made.
And how the business has changed so much. Now it’s comic books, Marvel, tent pole movies. The cost to make a movie has grown astronomically.
What’s your personal preference? Working on TV or feature films?
TV! As a screenwriter, you walk on the set and it’s, “Who’s that guy?” On TV, you’re the absolute king. Actors call us from the set, if they want to read the line differently. “Can I change it to … ?” Even if it’s two words, it has to be approved. It’s fabulous. It’s so much classier—a better place to be as a creator, as a writer, as a director. We’ve gone over 120 episodes with Grimm, and that’s huge. Nobody gets to do that.
Your views on the future of TV?
Cable has blown it wide open. You can tell stories for 13 hours without commercials. When we think about network TV, we wonder how long will that go on, how long people will want to be interrupted with commercials.
I also think about the future of movie theatres. How long will people keep going to movies, considering they can choose from hundreds of movies to watch at home.
It’s true! I used to go to movies all the time. Now if someone has to hire a babysitter, it can cost $100 to go out. We have a theatre at the ranch, a 75-inch TV. I’d much more sit at home. There are so many movies, 400 or 500 movies released each year. It’s crazy. The movie is there a week, and if you don’t see it, you’re done!
Tickets are still available for the finale of the National Writers Series spring season. To order, please call the City Opera House at 231-941-8082, order online at cityoperahouse.org, or stop at the Box Office, 106 E. Front Street. Doors to the Traverse City event open at 6 p.m. with live music, a cash bar, and delicacies from Morsels.
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