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Also Known As: Ronald Jay Bass Died:
Born: March 26, 1942 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA Profession: screenwriter, novelist, producer, entertainment lawyer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Despite charges of cheap emotional manipulation by critics, at his peak, writer-producer Ronald Bass was indisputably one of the most prolific, influential and highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood history. A former entertainment attorney, Bass began his career as a screenplay writer after landing a deal to pen "Code Name: Emerald" (1985), an adaptation of an earlier novel he had written. This led to more work, including the script for Francis Ford Coppola's "Gardens of Stone" (1987). Bass' career turning point came with his screenplay for the Tom Cruise/Dustin Hoffman box office smash "Rain Man" (1988), for which he won an Oscar. Projects such as "The Joy Luck Club" (1993) and "Waiting to Exhale" (1995) not only established Bass as one of film's leading writers of strong female characters, but also marked his entry into the role of producer, allowing for more creative control and a larger share of the profits. After the success of the Julia Roberts films "My Best Friend's Wedding" (1997) and "Stepmom" (1998), Bass' track record faltered somewhat, however, he remained very much in demand as an un-credited "script doctor" on dozens of films, including "Memoirs of a Geisha" (2005) and "Soul Surfer"...

Despite charges of cheap emotional manipulation by critics, at his peak, writer-producer Ronald Bass was indisputably one of the most prolific, influential and highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood history. A former entertainment attorney, Bass began his career as a screenplay writer after landing a deal to pen "Code Name: Emerald" (1985), an adaptation of an earlier novel he had written. This led to more work, including the script for Francis Ford Coppola's "Gardens of Stone" (1987). Bass' career turning point came with his screenplay for the Tom Cruise/Dustin Hoffman box office smash "Rain Man" (1988), for which he won an Oscar. Projects such as "The Joy Luck Club" (1993) and "Waiting to Exhale" (1995) not only established Bass as one of film's leading writers of strong female characters, but also marked his entry into the role of producer, allowing for more creative control and a larger share of the profits. After the success of the Julia Roberts films "My Best Friend's Wedding" (1997) and "Stepmom" (1998), Bass' track record faltered somewhat, however, he remained very much in demand as an un-credited "script doctor" on dozens of films, including "Memoirs of a Geisha" (2005) and "Soul Surfer" (2011). Contrary to the old axiom that unappreciated writers are at the bottom of the Hollywood ladder, trampled by the studio system, Bass embraced the established power structure and excelled to such a degree that it placed him at the very pinnacle in terms of longevity, financial remuneration and power.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 When a Man Loves a Woman (1994) 1st Aa Man
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Completed first novel, <i>Voleur</i> by age 17; Bass responded to his English teacher's critique by burning his manuscript
:
Practiced entertainment law for 17 years
1974:
Returned to the novel he wrote as a teen and began to rewrite the novel from memory
1978:
First novel published, "The Perfect Thief"
1984:
Quit practicing law when FOX signed him to write two scripts at $125,000 each; neither was ever produced
1985:
Feature debut as a screenwriter, "Code Name: Emerald"; adapted from his third novel, <i>The Emerald Illusion</i>
:
Formed production company, Predawn Production
1987:
Wrote the screenplays for "Gardens of Stone" and "Black Widow"
1988:
Breakthrough screenplay, "Rain Man"; co-written with Barry Morrow
1991:
First picture starring Julia Roberts, "Sleeping with the Enemy"
1993:
Feature debut as a producer, "The Joy Luck Club"; also co-wrote script with Amy Tan
1994:
Feature debut as executive producer, "When A Man Loves a Woman"; also co-scripted with Al Franken
1994:
TV screenwriting debut, "The Enemy Within," an HBO remake of the 1964 feature "Seven Days in May"
1995:
First association with novelist-screenwriter Terry McMillan, "Waiting to Exhale"; executive produced and co-wrote script with McMillan
1995:
Received sole screenwriting credit on "Dangerous Minds," even though Elaine May was brought on by star Michelle Pfeiffer to essentially rewrite it
1995:
TV producing debut, "The Conversation" (NBC); also wrote the pilot based on the 1974 feature (aired only on Mountain Stations)
:
Formed Ron Bass Productions
1996:
Served as co-executive producer and creator of the ABC series adaptation of "Dangerous Minds"
1996:
Served as creator and co-executive producer (with Stephen Cronish) of the CBS drama series "Moloney"
1997:
Signed three-year exclusive deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment
1997:
Scripted the comedy "My Best Friend's Wedding", starring Julia Roberts
1998:
Re-teamed with McMillan for "How Stella Got Her Groove Back"
1999:
Executive produced and scripted, "Entrapment," starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery
1999:
Produced and wrote the original screenplay adaptation of "Snow Falling on Cedars"; reportedly director Scott Hicks and original novelist David Guterson rewrote entire script
1999:
Co-scripted (with Jane Rusconi) the ABC-TV movie, "Swing Vote"
2000:
Scripted and produced "Passion of Mind," starring Demi Moore
2004:
Scripted the drama film, "The Lazarus Child"
2005:
Wrote and produced "Mozart and the Whale," starring Josh Hartnett and Radha Mitchell
2009:
Wrote and executive produced the film "Amelia," directed by Mira Nair and starring Hilary Swank in the title role
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Stanford University: Stanford , California -
Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut -
Harvard Law School: Cambridge , Massachusetts - 1967

Notes

On whether some of his assistants have contributed more than just research and ideas to his scripts: "I may circulate a draft to my team and ask for comments. When I block out the outline for a new script, I solicit suggestions. I certainly need help on research. Since I write on a pad in longhand, I require the help of someone who can read my writing and type my scripts. But no one writes a word except me." --Ron Bass to Peter Bart in GQ, October 1998

"Writers have this ego, and there's a feeling with multiple names that there is some shame in it, that it diminishes the craft. I couldn't disagree more. Sometimes it's one and sometimes a lot, but whatever the truth, it should be up on the screen. It's not true that many writers on the credits means that something is not working; it's a sign that the first thing didn't work.

"The end product is all that counts." --Bass to Stephen Schaefer in USA Today, January 20, 1999

About why he started producing: "You aren't an island, sending a script off into the sunset and then grumbling when everybody screws it up. I stopped being at war with the process and became part of the process." --Bass quoted in Sight and Sound, March 1999

"The reason I write more for women than men is that they are generally more process-oriented. They want to be in touch with their inner life, even if it is counter-productive to their goals. Men are more result-oriented. And they really don't want to know what's going on in their inner life if it is counter-productive. A man doesn't want to feel scared, guilty or acknowledge that he is insecure or ashamed--and that's such a huge part of living successfully." --Bass to Daily Variety, March 22, 1999

"I have a good eye for how to tell the same story in a different medium. In print, it's about what happens within people. In film, it's what happens between people." --Bass quoted in Moviemaker, May 1999

On employing a team of developmental assistants in the Bass "factory": "My guess is that if I wrote six scripts a year before, with the Team I write seven. At two million dollars, that extra script brings in more money than my payroll costs, so it all makes economic sense. But the huge advantage is in quality. Even an awful, inarticulate suggestion will make me think, Gee, I didn't realize George sounds anti-abortion, or, She really should have known he was fooling around, and I'm going to change scenes fourteen to eighteen to have her be aware of that, as a secret. Every scene, every word is more polished now." --Bass to Tad Friend in The New Yorker, January 24, 2000

"I always feel that someday they're going to find out that I'm just a little kid in an adult suit, and they're going to put me in my room." --Bass in The New Yorker, January 24, 2000

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Gail Weinstein. Marriage ended in 1976.
wife:
Christine Bass.

Family close complete family listing

sister:
Diane Bass. Psychiatric social worker. Part of the Bass "team"; has advised brother on family dynamics and autism ("Rain Man"); youngest sibling.
daughter:
Sasha Bass. Mother, Christine Bass.
daughter:
Jenna Bass. Mother, Christine Bass.

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Perfect Thief"
"Lime's Crisis"
"The Emerald Illusion"

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