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Jim Henson biopic leads top scripts on Hollywood “Black List”

December 12, 2009

MuppetsIt’s time for “The Black List,” the annual collection of movie scripts that studio executives have found noteworthy this year, but that have not yet been made into feature films.

The ironically titled list, evocative in name only to the 1950s Hollywood blacklist , was started in 2005 by Universal Pictures executive Franklin Leonard.  More than 300 film executives contributed descriptions of scripts that they think are hot for this year’s list, and in the past movies from the list have gone on to success with critics and on the awards circuit, including 2007′s “Juno” and “There Will Be Blood.”

The list was e-mailed out to people in the movie industry on Friday.

Atop the list this year is “The Muppet Man,” written by Christopher Weekes, which is about the life and early death of Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets  of television and film. Weekes is one of the many writers on this year’s Black List who is relatively unknown.

Then there’s Aaron Sorkin, creator of TV show “The West Wing,” whose script “The Social Network” looks at the most buzzy of all topics these days, the rise of the Web’s social networking world. Sorkin has written a script that looks at the lives of’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, and how overnight success and wealth changed his life.

The movie is already in production, with ”Zombieland” star Jesse Eisenberg playing Zuckerberg and “SexyBack” singer Justin Timberlake playing Napster creator Sean Parker.

There’s plenty of dark and twisted material on the list this year, including ”The Voices” by Michael Perry about a man who takes advice from his “talking” pets (think Son of Sam  and his dog) and a script called “Prisoners” that involves child abduction, vigilantism and torture.

 There’s also topical material, in the form of “Londongrad” by David Scarpa, a film based on the life of  dissident and former Russian security officer Alexander Litvinenko , whose 2006 poisoning death made headlines.

On Friday, writing an Op-Ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, University of Southern California professor Elizabeth Currid pointed out that in years past, many of the films that make Leonard’s Black List fail to score with audiences when they finally hit theaters, if that ever happens since most of them will never get produced.

But there’s a very good chance that more than one future Oscar winner could be on this year’s list, so it may be worth a check. Click through the pages below to see the list for yourself.

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