Maybe M. Night Shyamalan Didn't Write She's All That After All
While the world was happily shrugging off the memory of After Earth and its weak box office, director M. Night Shyamalan managed to drum up a whole lot of attention by bringing up a movie that's nearly 15 years old. Did you know that, before The Sixth Sense made him famous, he ghost wrote She's All That?
Yeah, it was news to us too-- and apparently to She's All That's credited screenwriter R. Lee Fleming, Jr. In a tweet that's since been deleted, Fleming replied to a fan's inquiry about Shyamalan's claims by saying "Only in his mind, James." Fleming is in fact the credited writer on She's All That's IMDB page, and Salon did enough digging into Fleming's social media presence to convince themselves that the account is legit. Attempting to follow the story any further, though, led them to a dead end-- talent agents either avoided them or promised to look into the matter, without actually providing any answers. And Fleming, having deleted the tweet, isn't talking either. It's not hard to connect the dots and assume he's gotten in trouble for speaking out to begin with, though you can't blame a relatively anonymous screenwriter for figuring nobody would even notice.
So we're dealing with a "he said, he said" debate here, and one that might be way harder to figure out than you'd guess from the already-updated IMDB page. Hollywood scripts constantly go through rewrites and tweaks from dozens of uncredited screenwriters, and only once in a while do those anonymous writers become famous and speak out. If Patton Oswalt had a hand in writing Monsters Inc. and two of the Shrek movies, it's totally possible that Shyamalan lent a hand to She's All That while he was making his way into the business-- and even that Fleming wouldn't remember it, since who knows how many people tinkered that script. Look at what happens on projects that get developed for a long while at studios, like Will Smith's Colossus-- strings of new writers are brought in, some of them to write entirely new drafts, and not all of them will wind up with a proper credit (WGA guidelines can be a bitch). I can understand Fleming not wanting the world giving credit to the other writer who eventually went on to get a Best Director nomination… but I have real doubts that the She's All That script is exclusively his work. Most other studio projects aren't-- why would this be an exception?
Want to decide for yourself? Revisit this classic scene from She's All That below and see if you can find Shyamalan's handiwork hidden in there somewhere. And no, the twist that a girl is pretty if you take her glasses off does not count.
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