Are you an aspiring screenwriter who dreams of creating magical and intimate moments that simply teem in human behavior? If you answered “yes”, then Jon Bernstein might be the instructor for you. “My classes strive to master the ‘rules’ only so that we may creatively break them,” says Bernstein in his bio for his upcoming screenwriting course at UCLA.
The course listing also provides a handful of respectable writing credits for Bernstein, including crafting the screenplays for 2000’s Beautiful, the Jerry Springer vehicle Ringmaster, and Disney’s Meet the Robinsons. But it’s his claim of working as a contributing writer for Disney’s Tangled that has the film’s co-director, Nathan Greno, tied up in knots.
“We never worked with the guy on Tangled,” said Greno in a recent public post on Facebook. The post, not surprisingly, has only generated more skepticism about Bernstein’s professional claims as Greno’s friends and co-workers point out holes in the writer’s IMDB page and compare professional notes. In regard to Bernstein’s credit for writing Meet the Robinsons, screenwriter Michelle Bochner Spitz pointed out, “Jon Bernstein wrote the first draft(s) of Meet the Robinsons, and then had nothing to do with the movie when it was rewritten several times over for more than three years.”
Hollywood credits work in quirky ways, and Bernstein could have a legitimate, legal claim to the Tangled credit, which he also used to sell his 2011 script workshop, The Inspired Screenplay. But according to Greno, Bernstein didn’t seem eager to shed any light on the appropriation when he was contacted. “I brought up this ‘credit concern’ to Jon on his (personal) Facebook page and was I quickly deleted/blocked,” Greno wrote on Facebook. “I credit all of the writing on Tangled to our actual writer, Dan Fogelman… and so does IMDB.”
If Bernstein wishes to set the record straight on Cartoon Brew and allay Nathan Greno’s concerns, we welcome hearing his side of the story.
UPDATE [4/9/2013, 9:50pm]: The screenwriter Jon Bernstein has responded in the comments to Nathan Greno’s allegations that he didn’t work on Tangled. In a followup email to Cartoon Brew, Bernstein also said that he has removed the credit from his bio, because even though he is legally entitled to use it, he does “not wish to invite this sort of misunderstanding and mean-spirited innuendo again.”
The full text of Bernstein’s comment is posted below:
To suggest that I am misrepresenting my credits is offensive to me. I wish you would have done a bit of research before writing this mean-spirited and wildly misleading story.
I never claimed to write TANGLED. My bio states that I was a contributing writer. There were over twenty of us according to Disney’s legal documents. I was the first writer hired to work on it back when the project was called RAPUNZEL. This was before Mr. Greno was involved. When the film was released as TANGLED, I received a Disney legal document listing all the writers who worked on it. Writer # 17 — Dan Fogelman – is the credited screenwriter.
I was the first writer to be hired to work on WILBUR ROBINSON (later released as MEET THE ROBINSONS), based on the William Joyce book. It was my draft that got the project greenlit into production. There were many credited screenwriters; I was the first credited screenwriter.
I have never met Mr. Greno. When he friended me on Facebook, I saw that he worked in animation and we shared a few common friends so I accepted his friendship. He challenged me on my wall, not a private message. I replied in a private message and provided for him the dates that I was contracted to write RAPUNZEL and the name of the Disney executive with whom I worked. Then I unfriended him because obviously, why would I want to be friends with him?
Hollywood screenwriters know that film, especially animated film, is a collaborative medium. Virtually all animated films have multiple writers and countless animators.
Please feel free to confirm these facts with Disney legal.