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Pickett (Rex) Papers
MSS 0750  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Restrictions
  • Acquisition Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Languages: English
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla 92093-0175
    Title: Rex Pickett Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0750
    Physical Description: 24.6 Linear feet (38 archives boxes, 3 flat boxes, 7 card file/media boxes, 11 film reels, and 1 records box)
    Date: 1940-2013 (bulk 1970-2013)
    Abstract: The papers of Rex Pickett, American novelist, screenwriter, film maker and playwright best known for his novel Sideways and his play based on the novel. The papers document Pickett's childhood through his writing career to date. The bulk of the papers cover the period of the 1970s through 2013 and include biographical materials, correspondence, journals, manuscript and typescript drafts of his novels, screenplays, and other writings, as well as photographic material and media.

    Preferred Citation

    Rex Pickett Papers, MSS 750. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Rex Pickett Papers document Pickett's professional career as a novelist, screenwriter, film maker and playwright. Materials include biographical information, journals, correspondence, manuscript and typescript drafts of his novels, screenplays and other writings, and photographic material. It also includes media such as reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, VHS, and digital media such as CDs and discs.


    Rex Michael Pickett was born on July 9, 1952 at Castle Air Force Base in Merced County, California. Rex, the second of three boys to Major Russell Raymond Pickett and Mrs. Anna Marie (Kuchta) Pickett, attended grade school through high school in San Diego, graduating from Clairemont High in 1970. Pickett describes the first time he realized his potential as a writer was with a poem he wrote for his high school annual poking fun at the principal which garnered some attention, "And I thought, hmm, the power of words."
    Pickett went on to attend the University of California, San Diego. He was a student of the American painter, writer, and film critic Manny Farber, whom Pickett describes, along with C. G. Jung, as being his greatest influence. In Farber's classes Pickett met fellow film student Barbara Schock. The couple would later marry and start their own film production company, Nightfilm Production, Inc. and later, Deadwood Productions. As an undergraduate, Pickett was a founder, co-editor and contributor to the student publication, Crawl Out Your Window, and co-wrote and self-published a book of poetry, If ears could see, if eyes could hear… (1973). Pickett graduated summa cum laude from UC San Diego in 1976 with a B.A as a Special Projects major, his diploma reading, "Specializing in Contemporary Literary and Film Criticism and Creative Writing".
    After UC San Diego, Pickett enrolled at the University of Southern California graduate film school. He left USC after one year to pursue making independent feature films. Pickett and Schock worked together on two feature films during the 1980s and early 1990s, California Without End (1984), which was sold to Bavarian Radio Television, and From Hollywood to Deadwood (1989), sold to Island Pictures, now part of MGM. Their most successful collaboration to date was Pickett's screenplay, directed by Schock, entitled My Mother Dreams the Satan's Disciples in New York (1999) for which Schock won the 2000 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short.
    The early to mid '90s was primarily a period of screenwriting for Pickett. He wrote over 25 screenplays, including an uncredited rewrite of the 20th Century Fox film Alien III (1990); Striking it Rich, a screen adaptation of the Craig Vetter novel (1992); and an original screenplay The Road Back (1993), optioned to Silverfilm Productions and DePasse Productions, which later formed part of the basis for his second published novel, Vertical (2011). In 1996, Pickett began his first novel, a mystery entitled La Purisima, which he hoped would be the beginning of a detective series. La Purisima, although never published, landed him representation with the Curtis Brown Ltd. literary agency and paved the way for Pickett's next novel, Sideways.
    As the backdrop for Sideways, Pickett, an avid low-handicap golfer, fell in love with California's Santa Ynez Valley. The uncrowded golf courses and inexpensive winery tasting rooms inspired the set up for the story based on his road trips out to the valley with his friend Roy Gittens during the 1990s. Pickett describes his writing style, epitomized in Sideways, as having a quality of "verisimilitude." Finished in 1999, Sideways was rejected by over 100 publishers on three separate rounds of submissions. In 2000 the novel was optioned by writer/director Alexander Payne. Payne decided to make About Schmidt before Sideways, and the novel was eventually published by St. Martin's Press in June of 2004. The film, adapted by Alexander Payne and his writing partner Jim Taylor, was released in the fall of 2004. Sideways went on to win over 350 awards including the 2005 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and two Golden Globe awards. In 2006, the screenplay was voted by the Writers Guild of America as one of the 101 Greatest Screenplays of All Time.
    Dissatisfied with the lack of promotion for Sideways, Pickett went the self-publishing route for Vertical (2011), his sequel to Sideways, and founded his own press. Vertical went on to win the Gold Medal for Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2012.
    Inspired by the success and cult following of Sideways, Pickett was approached by the Ruskin Group Theatre Company in 2011 to do a stage adaptation of his novel. The play opened and ran for six months at Santa Monica's Ruskin Theatre under the direction of Amelia Mulkey. In late 2012, Pickett was invited as a guest of the goverment of Chile to research and write the third installment of the Sideways trilogy.
    In 2013, Pickett brought Sideways: The Play to the campus of his alma mater, UC San Diego, with extended performances at The La Jolla Playhouse under Tony award-winning and La Jolla Playhouse Director Emeritus, Des McAnuff. Pickett has continued to promote the play and work on his third novel of the Sideways trilogy set in Chilean wine country.


    Materials in Series 5, MEDIA AND RECORDINGS, including film reels are restricted.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 2012.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Motion picture plays
    Novelists, American -- Manuscripts
    Screenwriters -- United States -- Manuscripts
    Pickett, Rex -- Archives