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The SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE screenplay was written by Marc Norman and playwright Tom Stoppard, although the original idea was rooted in a third creative mind - one of Norman's son's, Zachary

The SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE screenplay was written by Marc Norman and playwright Tom Stoppard, although the original idea was rooted in a third creative mind - one of Norman's son's, Zachary. It was in 1989, while studying Elizabethan drama at Boston University, that the younger Norman phoned his father with a sudden brainstorm of a movie concept - the young William Shakespeare in the Elizabethan theater. The elder Norman agreed it was a terrific idea, but he hadn't a clue what to do with it. Two years later, with bits of time stolen from other projects, the notion had formed - what if Shakespeare had writer's block while writing his timeless classic, "Romeo and Juliet"? Norman phoned his neighbor, the celebrated director Edward Zwick, and ran the idea past him. Zwick loved the concept and helped Norman pitch the idea to Casey Silver, Chairman of Universal Pictures. Their efforts succeeded; now the time arrived for Norman to sit down and write the screenplay. Later, Tom Stoppard was brought on to add his own touch to the story's historical and theatrical flavor. When the screenplay was completed, the work was greeted with overwhelming enthusiasm. However, an initial attempt to film the screenplay in 1993, with Zwick directing, had to be aborted. But the project's believers, including Zwick, Norman and Stoppard, knew that, no matter what the length of time or set of circumstances, "Shakespeare in Love" would ultimately land on the big screen (just as, in the story itself, Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" overcomes every obstacle and makes it to the stage.)

The turning point came in 1996, when Zwick was readying his acclaimed (and soon-to-be Academy Award winning) film "Legends of the Fall." Zwick called Miramax Films Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein and told him he had a terrific script called "Shakespeare in Love." Weinstein read the script and immediately wanted to bring the project to Miramax. If acquired, "Shakespeare in Love" would represent a milestone for the company, as Miramax would need to assume not only the cost of the script, but all previous pre-production costs incurred at Universal. At the time, this would represent a larger sum than the company had ever committed to a single project.

Weinstein shared the work with several key executives, including his brother Bob, Senior Vice President - Production Development (and eventual executive producer) Julie Goldstein and Executive Vice President (and eventual producer) Donna Gigliotti. All concurred that "Shakespeare" was one of the best scripts they had ever read, and began the process of acquiring the project from Universal.

Edward Zwick, however, was just beginning pre-production work on "The Siege" and was no longer available to direct (he did remain committed to the project as a producer, joined by David Parfitt, Donna Gigliotti, Harvey Weinstein and Marc Norman). Around this time, Weinstein had become captivated with director John Madden's work on "Mrs. Brown," a film dealing with similar themes of timeless romance and British history (which Miramax released in the U.S. to overwhelming acclaim and two Academy Award nominations.) Weinstein knew Madden was the ideal choice to direct "Shakespeare in Love," and offered him the project as a follow-up to his superior work on "Mrs. Brown."

The next step was bringing together an international cast to take on Norman and Stoppard's di

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