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SYRIANA

STEPHEN GAGHAN (Director / Writer) ranks among Hollywood's most respected screenwriters and, with Syriana, takes a big step toward establishing himself as a director of similar regard. Since being recognized for Best Dramatic Writing at the 1997 Emmy Awards, Gaghan has gone on to collaborate with a number of prominent filmmakers, culminating in his Academy Award, British Academy Award, WGA Award and Golden Globe for Best Adapted Screenplay for Steven Soderbergh's multiple award-winning Traffic, a gritty glimpse into the high stakes and high risks of the drug trade. The film became something of a cultural phenomenon, provoking serious debate about our nation's drug policy while grossing over $200 million worldwide and earning four Oscars, including Best Director and Best Supporting Actor for Benicio Del Toro. It was Gaghan's most ambitious project – before tackling an even greater challenge in Syriana.

Gaghan got his start as a screenwriter in 1997 when he set up his insightful teen drama Havoc at New Line Cinema. While doing research for Traffic, Gaghan took time out to write Rules of Engagement for director William Friedkin and producers Richard Zanuck and Scott Rudin. Based on a story by former Secretary of the Navy James Webb, the taut military drama starred Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson and was released to favorable reviews in 2000. In 2002, he wrote and directed the psychological thriller Abandon.

After getting himself expelled from high school on the last day of his senior year for driving a go-cart through the administration building, Gaghan knocked around Europe, India, Nepal, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, and worked a series of odd jobs, including graphic designer, assistant to a National Geographic photographer and political fundraiser. Gaghan also worked at the prestigious literary journal The Paris Review and published short fiction in journals such as The Iowa Review.

Following a move to Los Angeles where he sold a spec script to producer Joel Silver at Warner Bros. Pictures and wrote a freelance episode of New York Undercover, Gaghan landed a job on ABC's critically acclaimed American Gothic, writing seven of the series' 21 episodes. Shortly after, Gaghan began working with writer Michael Tolkin (The Player) on a satiric comedy about Bill Gates and Microsoft for HBO. The project ultimately evolved into a feature script called $20 Billion that was sold to Paramount and earned a place on Premiere's "10 Best Unproduced Screenplays” list. Gaghan also wrote several episodes of David Kelly's award-winning drama The Practice, and his NYPD Blue episode, "Where's ‘Swaldo?,” won the 1997 Emmy Award for Best Dramatic Writing.

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