Bill Lancaster Papers

Finding aid created by Writers Guild Foundation Archive staff using RecordEXPRESS
Writers Guild Foundation Archive
7000 West Third Street
Los Angeles, California 90048
(323) 782-4680

Descriptive Summary

Title: Bill Lancaster Papers
Dates: 1975-1991
Collection Number: WGF-MS-112
Creator/Collector: Lancaster, Bill, 1947-1997
Extent: 10 linear feet
Repository: Writers Guild Foundation Archive
Los Angeles, California 90048
Abstract: The Bill Lancaster Papers consist of Lancaster’s scripts and project files for produced and unproduced film and TV titles written during his screenwriting career. The Bad News Bears, The Bad News Bears Go To Japan, The Thing, Firestarter and Monkey King are the most well represented films in the collection.
Language of Material: English


Available by appointment only.

Publication Rights

The responsibility to secure copyright and publication permission rests with the researcher.

Preferred Citation

Bill Lancaster Papers. Writers Guild Foundation Archive

Acquisition Information

Donated by the Lancaster family on October 16, 2019.

Biography/Administrative History

Bill Lancaster, the son of actor Burt Lancaster and Norma Anderson, was born in Los Angeles on November 17, 1947. After a few acting roles, his first screenwriting credit was for the hit 1976 film the Bad News Bears. He went on to write its second sequel, The Bad News Bears Go To Japan (1978), and The Thing (1982). Lancaster was married to Kippie Kovacs (1949-2001) daughter of Ernie Kovacs, and they had one daughter Keigh (1966-2017). Bill Lancaster died on January 4, 1997 in Los Angeles at age 49.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection consists of multiple drafts, revisions and extensive notes for Lancaster’s produced films The Bad News Bears, The Bad News Bears Go To Japan, and The Thing. There is a small amount of correspondence related to the first Bears film and production reports for the sequel. The Thing files contain the 1951 Charles Lederer script as well as an unused 1977 draft by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel, in addition to Lancaster’s multiple drafts and revisions. Numerous revision pages reveal the multiple iterations the final scenes went through in figuring out the ending. The collection also contains multiple drafts and extensive notes for Lancaster’s unrealized projects and unused drafts. Projects include Firestarter (written for John Carpenter), Monkey King (from a story by John Landis), Billy Buckner, a private detective pilot for CBS (1981), an adaptation of the novel Creature by John Saul for Universal (1990), a pilot titled Rapple, an adaptation of the novel Vida by Delacorta [Daniel Odier] (1987), and a project about skateboarding titled Lewis and Clark or Black Heat or California Rough and Tumble. The collection contains files of memos and correspondence to and from executives at Paramount 1982-2984, regarding ideas the studio was considering. Most are from Don Simpson, and other names represented are Jerry Bruckheimer, Casey Silver, and Jeff Katzenberg. Of note, Eddie Murphy is discussed in multiple memos and there is a memo about the potential of the Ehud Yonay article that would become the movie Top Gun. Finally, the collection is rich with scripts, mostly feature films, by other writers, presumably sent to Lancaster for possible attachment and work. Many are unproduced. Some include brief notes from Lancater’s ICM agent Ben Benjamin. Titles include Road to Mars by Eric Idle (1984); Another Such Victory, a proposed CBS miniseries adaptation of the John Weaver book by Walter Bernstein (1981); Bodyhunter [Body Hunter] by G. J. Pruss for David Fincher (1986); Loose Women by Douglas McGrath & Terrence Sweeney (1982); Passage to Glory by Jeanne Rosenberg, from screenplays by John Michael Hayes and John Hunter about dog sledder Fred Hartman; Skatetown Express [Spirit of Skatetown] by C.R. Steyck III; Time to Live by Ernest Tidyman; Jolly Roger Son of the Crimson Pirate by Sidney Michaels (1979); autobiography MS by Hope Dare titled The Ziegfeld Girl.

Indexing Terms

Thing (Motion picture : 1982) Bad News Bears (Motion picture) Firestarter (Motion picture)