Movie Fact #235 - August 20th, 2021
The 1986 film True Stories was the result of an odd meeting when screeenwriter Stephen Tobolowsky and his girlfriend Beth Henley met director David Byrne and Talking Heads at a preview screening Jonathan Demme's film Stop Making Sense. Shortly afterward, Byrne invited Henley and Tobolowsky over to his house and showed them a collection of hundreds of drawings he had made and put up on his wall, explaining they were based on clippings he had scrapbooked from tabloids as the band had been on tour. He then revealed that he had been intrigued by the idea of making a film based on the premise, "What if all these stories were true?" and wanted Henley and Tobolowsky to write the script based on those drawings. From there, it was an interesting back-and-forth between the director and writer.
Tobolowsky was aware that Texas was coming up on its sesquicentennial celebration, and thought that would provide a good framework for the characters Byrne had invented. While Henley and wrote a draft and provided it to Byrne, then did not hear back from him for about a year and later found out that Byrne had rewritten their script almost entirely, keeping only a few lines and the sesquicentennial framework from the first draft. However, he asked Tobolowsky and Henley for permission to list their names ahead of his as scriptwriters so the film would seem less like a "vanity project." The result was a film that, despite not being a commercial success at the time, a film that has become more recognized in hindsight beyond such a description. Stay tuned!