News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 11, 2018
Best motion picture? Castine writer/producer gets Golden Globe nod

Jenny Bicks on the Red Carpet

Jenny Bicks on the Red Carpet at the premier of the movie aboard the Queen Mary 2.

Photo courtesy of Adam Peck

by Monique Labbe

The success of the movie The Greatest Showman, recently nominated for several Golden Globe awards, is due in part to part-time Castine resident and full-time Hollywood writer and producer Jenny Bicks, who wrote the screenplay.

The film, which stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Michelle Williams, was nominated for Best Motion Picture in the Musical or Comedy category, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Jackman), and Best Original Song, written by Benj Pesk and Justin Paul, the minds behind the musical success of last year’s La La Land.

The Greatest Showman ultimately won the Best Original Song category at the January 7 awards show.

For Bicks, this project has been 10 years in the making, stemming from a working relationship formed with Jackman for the 81st Oscars, which was hosted by the X-Men: Wolverine actor. Bicks said that Jackman approached her specifically to write the film.

Bicks has worked on screenplays for feature length films and television shows. Because the narrative told in The Greatest Showman alternates between spoken word and song, the writing process proved to be a little bit different for the seasoned professional.

“The key is to think of the songs as dialogue,” said Bicks. “They move the story along the same way the written word would, so you have to be careful of not over-writing dialogue.”

Bicks wrote the screenplay before Pesk and Paul came on board for the songs, leaving placeholders for where the songs would best fit into the storytelling and what themes and ideas would work best for the songs themselves.

The nomination for Best Motion Picture came as a bit of a surprise for everyone involved in the production, as the film had not been released at the time of the nomination announcements.

“I was thrilled,” said Bicks. “We weren’t sure the movie would have registered yet with the foreign press since it hadn’t come out yet. They had seen it, but ‘word of mouth’ wasn’t the same as if it were already playing in the theaters.”

Bicks said she was also excited about the other two nominations, especially Jackman’s Best Performance nod.

“[Jackman] is the nicest man in Hollywood, or anywhere, frankly, so he deserves it all and more,” she said.

Bicks spends most of her time on the West Coast, but she was recently back east for a premier party aboard the Queen Mary 2 in New York, joined by family members who have all been longstanding part-time residents in the Castine area. She and her husband bought a house in Castine 12 years ago, but the area has been familiar to Bicks since her childhood.

“I started going to Castine when I was 3 years old,” said Bicks. “I was so lucky that my parents planted roots there. My very best friends on earth are the kids I grew up with in Castine.”

The Greatest Showman premiered in theaters worldwide on December 20, and Bicks said she has been excited to hear the response from viewers.