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John Irving

National Book Award

No adult in my family would ever tell me anything about who my father was. I knew from an older cousin -- only four years older than I am -- everything, or what little I could discover about him. I mistakenly thought that he and my mother were married and divorced before I was born. As it turned out, I was born in 1942, and my parents didn't divorce until 1944, when I was two. But I was born with that father's name, John Wallace Blunt, Jr., and it probably was a gift to my imagination that my mother wouldn't talk about him, because when information of that kind is denied to you as a child, you begin to invent who your father might have been, and this becomes a secret, a private obsession, which I would say is an apt description of writing novels and screenplays, of making things up in lieu of knowing the real answer.
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John Irving

National Book Award

I think working my way through that process, begin with the end and then work your way back to where you began. Sometimes that's a year, sometimes it's 18 months, where all I'm doing is taking notes. I'm reconstructing the story from the back to the front so that I know where the front is. Now people always ask me, "Well surely something changes. Surely somewhere along the way you get a better idea." In the sequence of events in the middle of the story, that's often true. Sometimes a character I had never thought of -- a minor character or a major/minor one-- will make an appearance in the middle of the story and move the story in a slightly different way. But the ending never changes. It never has. Eleven novels, it never has changed. I might fool around with that first sentence over time, but I won't fool around with the last. It's as clear as a note of music. It is where I'm going.
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Sir Peter Jackson

Oscar for Best Director

I wanted to do something fantastical, and I thought that that would be so much fun to take that sort of Sinbad genre and combine it with computer effects. 'Cause Jurassic Park had come out. We had seen the great dinosaurs had now been done, but to actually take fantastical monsters and swashbuckling heroes, and something like Sinbad, and do a movie like that, I thought would be really neat. So I started to think about that being our next film after Frighteners, and needed to write a story -- didn't have a story -- and started to talk to Fran (Walsh) about it, and we kept referencing Lord of the Rings all the time. We just kept thinking, saying, "Well, it's got to be like Lord of the Rings," or "It should be just like that, but like Lord of the Rings, something like that's got to happen." After a few days of doing this, we thought, "Well, why don't we find out about Lord of the Rings? We talk about it all the time, and it was just an absolute assumption that Lord of the Rings would be tied up, unavailable. Just assumed that. I mean, it's such a big title, but I thought it was worth a phone call. So eventually, I called my agent and said could he find out who has got the Lord of the Rings rights.
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Sir Peter Jackson

Oscar for Best Director

We had a meeting with Bob Shaye, and Bob basically at that meeting, you know, he looked at the scripts and the various bits of artwork and a videotape that we had put together, and it was in Bob's words were, "Why would you want to charge nine dollars to see this when you could charge $27?" is the words that he used, and I thought, "What's he talking about?" It was a little bit of a mental puzzle, and then I realized he was thinking about three movies. I said, "You mean three movies?" "Yeah. Tolkien wrote three books. Why shouldn't we do three movies?" So they were immediately embracing. They saw the potential that if this was going to be as good as they hoped it would be, you'd want three of these movies, not one. You'd want $27, not nine dollars.
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Sir Peter Jackson

Oscar for Best Director

I just thought this is a wonderful story. The time is now here, both from the point of view of nobody sees King Kong anymore, and the fact that the technology has now gotten so potent and so powerful, the computing power that we have, that Kong can be done in a totally photo-realistic way. And you know, we set out to preserve as much about the original film as we could in the sense of the 1933 setting, the Depression, which is a very important part of the story, and I didn't want to lose that. I wanted the Empire State Building with him being attacked by biplanes. So I wanted it set in the '30s again for that reason.
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Donald Johanson

Discoverer of Lucy

Here was a guy, Charles Darwin, in the middle 1800's who sat in a little home in Kent at Down and because of his five-year experience on the Beagle, traveling around the world as a naturalist, designed an idea of evolutionary change which is the grand unifying theory of biology. Today, even though biology is leaps and bounds beyond Darwin in 1859, when he published The Origin of Species, the basic core of biology is still natural selection. But, Darwin was a very retiring person. He didn't want to go out and defend his theories when he was being attacked by, particularly by the church, but by other scientists. But, Huxley, one of his colleagues, really became the defender of his ideas. He wrote a book with a wonderful title, Man's Place In Nature. Of course, the terrible thing that Darwin did, was he removed humans from the center of the biological universe. He said that humans and human ancestors must have been susceptible to the same forces, the same whims and caprices of climatic change, evolutionary change, as any and all other living organisms. What Huxley tried to do in this book, was to really put man in his place in the natural world. I thought this was a brilliant idea. This was something that intrigued me, to realize that the same sort of plants and animals and insects that I was studying and was interested in -- that we were there for the same reasons that they were. The same process of evolutionary change that brought about the Monarch butterfly, or the rabbits that I was observing in the neighborhood and so on, was the same process that brought us to where we are today.
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Donald Johanson

Discoverer of Lucy

Donald Johanson: One day I was sitting in -- I believe it was organic chemistry class -- and I realized that the 500 or so people who were in this lecture hall would all go home that night and solve the same problems and come up with the same answers. And those problems were the same problems that were answered by the class the last year and the year before. What I wanted to do was, I wanted to explore problems and areas where we didn't have answers. In fact, where we didn't even know the right questions to ask. Because often, the questions we ask, we found out were the wrong questions. We came up with new evidence that totally changed our whole view of what we thought about human evolution.
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