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Michael Rich

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Also Known As: Mike Rich Died:
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Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Ever since he won the Academy of Motion Picture Art & Sciences' Nicholl Fellowship, Mike Rich has been one of the most sought after screenwriters in Hollywood. Rich became a fellow in 1998 with his first-ever writing effort, "Finding Forrester" (2000). A week after winning the fellowship, Columbia Pictures bought the script for six figures-a rare thing to happen to a tyro scribe (Ironically, Columbia passed on the script six months earlier-before it was a Nicholl winner.) A week after the sale, famed actor Sean Connery signed on to play William Forrester, a one-time Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist-turned-recluse, a la J.D. Salinger. In the blink of an eye, Rich went from a Portland radio news reporter to one of the hottest writers in the business. And with the sudden change, Rich began to get out of life what he wanted: to tell stories for a living. Originally from Los Angeles, Rich spent most of his youth growing up in eastern Oregon. His initial interest was radio, a skill he cultivated in high school and used to pay for his tuition at Oregon State University. Rich began his news radio career in Spokane, Washington at KREM-FM, then moved on to KINK-FM in Portland where he worked the...

Ever since he won the Academy of Motion Picture Art & Sciences' Nicholl Fellowship, Mike Rich has been one of the most sought after screenwriters in Hollywood. Rich became a fellow in 1998 with his first-ever writing effort, "Finding Forrester" (2000). A week after winning the fellowship, Columbia Pictures bought the script for six figures-a rare thing to happen to a tyro scribe (Ironically, Columbia passed on the script six months earlier-before it was a Nicholl winner.) A week after the sale, famed actor Sean Connery signed on to play William Forrester, a one-time Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist-turned-recluse, a la J.D. Salinger. In the blink of an eye, Rich went from a Portland radio news reporter to one of the hottest writers in the business. And with the sudden change, Rich began to get out of life what he wanted: to tell stories for a living.

Originally from Los Angeles, Rich spent most of his youth growing up in eastern Oregon. His initial interest was radio, a skill he cultivated in high school and used to pay for his tuition at Oregon State University. Rich began his news radio career in Spokane, Washington at KREM-FM, then moved on to KINK-FM in Portland where he worked the grueling nightshift. Three years after the move, Rich was interviewing an author about famous novelists and began thinking about Salinger, William Burroughs and what it might be like for someone to "break through [the] barrier." His random thoughts eventually congealed into a solid idea, a notion which became the impetus for "Finding Forrester." Though initially a hobby, Rich worked hard to write the script, squeezing in time after his radio shift and a power nap, and before his children arrived home from school.

Once finished, Rich tried all means to get his script out into the world: contacts, query letters and contests. Studios and production companies passed, which left the contests as his only hope. Though he didn't make the cut in the Austin Film Festival's screenwriting competition, winning the Academy's prestigious Nicholl Fellowship more than made up for it. Gus Van Sant ("Drugstore Cowboy," "Good Will Hunting") eventually directed Forrester, and Rich couldn't have been happier. While most directors eschew writers on set, Van Sant took Rich under his wing. Van Sant shot the script almost as is, while allowing, even encouraging, Rich's opinion and input. For Rich, there was no better experience a writer could have. The film became a surprise hit, taking in over $50 million and generating significant Oscar buzz.

Rich soon quit his radio day job to begin work on Disney's "The Rookie" (2002), the story of a never-was minor league pitcher who, after making a bet with the high school team he coaches, tries out for a major league organization. Starring Dennis Quad and Rachel Griffiths, "The Rookie" proved to be another success for Rich, taking in over $76 million at the box office. Around this time, Rich wrote another sports-themed script for Disney: "Miracle", the story about the Cinderella U.S. hockey team that defeated the supposedly unbeatable Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics, which later starred Kurt Russell and Patricia Clarkson (lensed 2003).

Prior to "Miracle's" release, in keeping with sports themes, Rich worked on "Radio" (2003) for director/producer Michael Tollin, who, after reading an inspirational article in Sports Illustrated, hired the writer for the job. The feel-good story was inspired by the life of James Robert "Radio" Kennedy (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), a perennial loner mentally slower than most, befriended by Harold Jones (Ed Harris), a high school football coach in a small South Carolina town. Though at first suspicious of Coach Jones' sudden interest in him, Radio eventually lowers his defenses and exposes himself to a world that he never knew existed. In return, Coach Jones learns the value of friendship and family. A surprise box office hit in the fall of 2003, "Radio" reaffirmed Rich's stature as one of Hollywood's most reliable and in-demand screenwriters

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