[caption id="attachment_182052" align="alignleft" width="300"] Miramax[/caption]
Generally, screenwriting is reserved for a thankless group of nerds who spend most of their waking hours making "Star Wars" references and lamenting their low position on the Hollywood totem pole.
But once in a while, the ladies and gentlemen behind the scripts end up becoming household name ... or move on from other successful careers to take a stab at screenwriting. And whether it's to make a buck, help out a buddy or take on a new challenge, these scribes sometimes end up scoring some pretty unexpected gigs.
So, upon the revelation that titan of twist M. Night Shyamalan was allegedly though perhaps wasn't after all involved in writing "She's All That" (1999), a movie about how beautiful women become even more beautiful when they take off their glasses and wear their hair down, we've assembled a list of some other well-known writers whose names are attached to some surprising projects.
1. Quentin Tarantino, 'It's Pat' (1994)
[caption id="attachment_182051" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Touchstone Pictures[/caption]
Yep, you read that right. The guy known as probably the best and most innovative screenwriter of the past 20 years is also (partially) responsible for the most forgettable one-joke SNL spin-off this side of "Stuart Saves His Family." We'll chalk this rare misstep up to Tarantino being buds with star Julia Sweeney, who along with Phil Lamarr and Kathy Griffin was part of an oddball trio of quasi-famous comedians that popped up in "Pulp Fiction."
2. J.J. Abrams, 'Gone Fishin'' (1997)
[caption id="attachment_182050" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Hollywood Pictures[/caption]
Prior to hitting it big with "Alias," bigger with "Lost," and bigger still with "Star Trek" and "Star Wars," J.J. Abrams was establishing himself as a young Hollywood screenwriter, which unfortunately included working on some of the schlockiest and schmaltziest films of the '90s — notably, the James Belushi vehicle "Taking Care of Business," Best Use of Animal Crackers in a Love Scene award winner "Armageddon" and "Gone Fishin'," a buddy comedy so terrible it made Joe Pesci spend the next ten years of his life reevaluating his decision to become an actor. It's okay, J.J. ... as long as you don't screw up "Star Wars," we'll still love you.
3. Joss Whedon, 'Waterworld' (1995)
[caption id="attachment_182055" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Universal[/caption]
Before being a "Whedonite" was a thing and after a mangled film version of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" hit theaters with a thud, Joss Whedon was making hay working on projects that almost certainly didn't spring from his own imagination, including "Speed," "Twister" and Kevin Costner's ludicrously over-budgeted vanity project "Waterworld," the story of one half-man, half-fish, half-balding-egomaniac's quest to save humanity from living on floating Disney World attractions.
4. Alexander Payne, 'I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry' (2007)
[caption id="attachment_182048" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Universal[/caption]
If you've ever seen a movie where a famous actor goes through a kind of hilarious, kind of horribly depressing midlife crisis ("Election," "Sideways," "The Descendants"), you've probably seen an Alexander Payne movie. Surprisingly, Payne is also credited with a re-write of the gay buddy comedy "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry." Apparently, before the Happy Madison crew transformed the movie into an excuse for Adam Sandler to touch Jessica Biel's boobs and Kevin James to fall down, Payne's script — originally titled "Flamers" — was about two middle-aged men falling in love, and included a big ol' sloppy kiss between the two leads.
5. Roald Dahl, 'You Only Live Twice' (1967)
[caption id="attachment_182057" align="aligncenter" width="500"] MGM[/caption]
Roald Dahl is best known for writing every book you read between the ages of 8 and 13, just after you'd completed Dr. Seuss' canon and just before you moved on to J. K. Rowling's. In addition to being one of the greatest children's authors of all time, Dahl also did several other equally awesome things during his life, including co-inventing a valve used on brain-injury patients, serving as an espionage agent during WWII ... and writing a screenplay based on a book by an old war buddy named Ian Flaming. "You Only Live Twice" was one of the weaker early Bond movies, but considering Dahl described the book as "Ian Fleming’s worst ... with no plot in it which would even make a movie," Dahl probably wasn't to blame here.
6. Mario Puzo, 'Superman' (1978), 'Superman II' (1981)
[caption id="attachment_182054" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Warner Bros.[/caption]
No matter what else he did in his career, Mario Puzo was always going to be associated with his novel-turned-film masterwork that transformed movies forever. (It's "The Godfather." Did you not know it was "The Godfather"? C'mon, try to keep up here.) Less well-remembered is his involvement developing the first two Christopher Reeve "Superman" films, as well as something called "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" (1992), starring Tom Selleck as King Ferdinand and a sea creature that had recently consumed Marlon Brando as friar Tomas de Torquemada.
7. John Hughes, 'Flubber' (1997)
[caption id="attachment_182049" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Disney[/caption]
Somewhere around 1990, John Hughes decided to move on from ridiculously profitable young adult fare ("The Breakfast Club," "Sixteen Candles," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and oh so much more) to ridiculously profitable kid fare ("Home Alone," "Beethoven" and "101 Dalmatians"). Hughes most shameful credit, however, remains the Robin Williams-led remake of "Flubber," about a silly man who invents a silly substance that bounces around a lot. We're still not entirely sure what Hughes was thinking here, but we'll assume he was trying to ride the coattails of the gelatinous substance craze of the mid-'90s, which included such quality products as Gak and Floam.
8. Carrie Fisher, 'The Wedding Singer' (1998)
[caption id="attachment_182056" align="aligncenter" width="500"] New Line Cinema[/caption]
If you've ever seen Fisher's book-turned-one-woman-show "Wishful Drinking," you know that she's better at more than looking sexy in a metal bikini next to a slug creature. During the late '80s and early '90s, while also acting, writing novels and nursing a prodigious drinking habit, Fisher spent time script doctoring some highly successful movies, including "The River Wild," "Hook," "Lethal Weapon 3" and one of Adam Sandler's better vehicles, "The Wedding Singer."
9. Roger Ebert, 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls' (1970)
[caption id="attachment_182047" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Fox[/caption]
When searching for a writer to work on what was supposed to be a sequel to the camp classic "Valley of the Dolls," noted bosom-enthusiast Russ Meyer enlisted the help of a young Chicago Sun-Times film critic by the name of Roger Ebert. Instead of a sequel, Ebert and Meyer doubled down on the nudity, violence and melodramatic excess of the original and emerged with "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," an X-rated send-up of all things Hollywood. Ebert later referred to the movie as "an essay on our generic expectations" and "an anthology of stock situations, characters, dialogue, clichés and stereotypes," but let's be honest ... the main attraction here was boobs. And lots of them.