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CONTAGION writer Scott Z Burns sets new psychological thriller THE SIDE EFFECTS

Movie Contagion by Jim Napier

Scott Z. Burns is on the rise as a well-respected screenwriter. He has written such films as The Bourne Ultimatum, Oceans 12, The Informant! and Contagion. Burns also has some cool films that will be released soon, such as David Fincher's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of the TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Burns is also an Oscar winning producer of An Inconvenient Truth and director of the nuclear fallout drama, Pu-239. The Playlist reports that he has found his next project, a psychological thriller set in the world of pharmaceuticals, called The Side Effects.

Here is what he had to say:

“It deals with people and their moods. It’s about how we as a society can’t tolerate sadness and what that makes us vulnerable to,” Burns said. The idea came to him, like many of his ideas evidently do, while at New York’s Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital doing research for “Wonderland,” a Peter Berg-created, since-canceled 2008 TV show that Burns used to write for. “Peter and I and the other writers went every day for months and talked to psychiatrists, and I think I learned there that the only way these things really ring true is if you go and roll up your sleeves and get into them very deeply.”

Burns went on to talk a bit about the project:

“It’s definitely got a twist,” Burns said of the genrey psychological thriller aspect of his new project. “It’s a story where it’s like if someone were listening to the conversation you and I were having and thought ‘Hmmm, if that’s the way that society is working how can I manipulate that, how can I use that?’ And that’s what the movie’s about.”

“I’m going to try and start casting after this weekend,” he said. “It’s written and Lorenzo di Bonaventura [’Salt,’ ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’] is one of the producers on it, so I’m going to get into it. It should be really great to get back to being behind the camera and hopefully using some of the things I’ve learned.”

Burns also confirmed that George Clooney was forced to drop out of U.N.C.L.E. because of back injuries he received on the set of Syriana. Here is what he had to say in relation to Clooney's departure:

“Yeah, you know George is a really fun guy and a really cool actor. I ran into George last week [at the Venice Film Festival],” Burns explained. “And he made a point of running to me and saying ‘I really, really loved your script and I just wanted to be really clear with you that I need to have back surgery and I can’t do this.’ And you know, I do know that Steven’s plan, which he was really up front with me about, was to shoot the action really practically, and it’s going to be a really, really physically intense movie. I think he really enjoyed some of what he did with ‘Haywire’ by keeping things practical and I think wants to apply that again. And from having written that character, I know that’s not a thing that you would want to do if you had a bad back.”

I am interested in seeing Contagion when it opens this weekend. The Side Effects sounds like a cool project, but I am tired of adaptations of TV shows. What are your thoughts?

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