(Quick update: Aaron Sorkin’s researcher, Ian, just pointed out that “whoever that is on your website is not Aaron”. This is what happens when you rely on Google image search. Consider it corrected.)
There’s just one problem: as Sorkin himself admits, he knows nothing about Facebook. In fact so desperate is his lack of knowledge that he’s set up a group on the site asking for help and advice from Facebook users, explaining “I figured a good first step in my preparation would be finding out what Facebook is.”
Now, regular readers will know that I’m a huge Sorkin fan. As I say on the About page of this very site, I would gladly have the man’s babies (although they’d probably be cancelled after eight months). And so it kills me that he’s heading for such an epic fail. Facebook the movie? Who exactly is that aimed at? People who thought Shattered Glass could do with a bit more exposition? People who loved the technology in Wargames but hated the high drama?
But Sorkin has asked for help, and so help he shall have.
The most important thing in a project like this is to get the characters and casting right. Mark Zuckerberg is a complex character – think Paulie Bleeker meets Rain Man – and miscasting the role of Peter Thiel would spell disaster for any project. With that in mind here’s my list of suggested key characters, and the actors to have in mind while writing them…
(In order of appearance)
Mark Zuckerberg: Michael Cera
Tyler Winklevoss: Jonah Hill
Peter Thiel: Nathan Lane
Max Levchin: Joshua Malina
Sean Parker: Matthew Lillard
Jonathan Abrams: Ben Stiller
Tom Anderson: Donald Sutherland
Larry Page: Ben Affleck
Sergey Brin: Matt Damon
Jason Calacanis: Joe Pesci
Michael Arrington: John Goodman
Nick Denton: Lily Tomlin
Owen Thomas: Tom Cruise
Sarah Lacy: Lindsay Lohan
Kevin Rose: Dulé Hill
Julia Allison: Katie Holmes
CEO of Hasbro: Allison Janney
Evan Williams: Matthew Perry
Rupert Murdoch: Tom Anderson
‘Danny’: Timothy Busfield
And then there’s the script itself. It seems to me that any Sorkin-penned Facebook screenplay must contain (at least) the following…
1) A seven minute ‘bounce and talk’ featuring Sergey Brin (Damon) and Larry Page (Affleck) space-hopping down the corridors of the Googleplex.
* * * *
Page: "Don't be evil? Don't be *evil*? We pay these guys ten million dollars and that's what they come up with?"
Brin: "I believe there was also something involving elves."
Brin: "So we have a problem with 'Don't be evil?'"
Page: "You mean apart from the fact that the alternative would be "be evil"? Which, by the way..."
Brin: "...has already been trademarked by Microsoft?"
Brin: "Has already been trademarked by Microsoft, and... please tell me we didn't just spend ten million dollars just to set up that joke."
Page: "I'm really not sure I can."
Page: "So I'm just going to bounce over there and tell them we'd like to hear a couple more ideas."
Brin: "Yeah. You should probably do that."
Page: (Calling back) "You want to hear the one with the elves?"
* * * *
2) An emotional sub-plot involving Stanley Tucci as a CEO who is forced to admit to shareholders that he asked key members of his staff to cover up the true state of his health.
3) A game of Scrabulous between Peter Thiel (Lane) and Max Levchin (Malina) conducted entirely in latin.
3) A scene in which a screenwriter who admits to knowing “less about the Internet than my grandmother” is brought in to write a movie about an already-shark-jumped social network. Remarkably, by using whip-smart dialogue in lieu of factual accuracy, the screenwriter begins to make headway on the project. An Oscar – or at least a Webby – surely awaits, but will our hero walk down the red carpet alone or can he win the heart of his beautiful but ditzy assistant, Julia Allison?
4) A scene in which someone throws a sheep through a plate glass window.