Michael Lawrence Writer Resume

Michael R. Lawrence



Features — Television Movies

Treatments  and  Scripts


Michael R. Lawrence has written original screenplays, adaptations and treatments for over a dozen feature film and television movie projects.  He studied story structure with Robert McKee and screenwriting with Linda Seger.  Mr. Lawrence wrote the initial treatment and served as script consultant on the Disney feature QUIZ SHOW, directed By Robert Redford.  Two of his treatments are currently in development at Norman Lear’s Act III Productions.


UNLIKELY PARTNERS (2001):   A 24-page treatment based on the true story of Vivien Thomas, a black man with only a high school education who became a pioneer in cardiac surgery.  Working with Dr. Alfred Blalock  at Johns Hopkins, he invented the surgical cure for “Blue Baby Syndrome” — thirty years before the University admitted its first black surgical resident.  One of the most remarkable and overlooked men of 20th century medicine.  Developed for the Hallmark Cable Channel. The treatment was the basis for the Peabody award winning HBO original movie Something the Lord Made.


BROTHER BROTHER (2000):  A 49-page treatment.  Identical twins, ménage and murder — a fast moving, steamy, double-cross thriller.  Based on the Novel “Double Edge” by Anthony Mancini.


MEDAL OF HONOR (1999):  A 27-page treatment based on the true WWII story of David Rubitsky.  Alone in a bunker in the swamps of New Guinea, Rubitsky killed over 150 attacking Japanese soldiers and single handedly saved the lives of his entire company.  Rubitsky never received the Congressional Medal of Honor that he was promised and his son is determined to find out why.  Currently in development at Norman Lear’s Act III Productions.


TOKYO ROSE (1997):  A 58-page treatment.  Myths and legends are often more powerful than the truth.  Iva Toguri, a young American woman from California was convicted of treason when in fact she was a true patriot and a WW II war hero. Though she was the only person convicted of treason to receive a Presidential pardon, her story remains one of the darkest chronicles in American history.  Based on the book “The Hunt for Tokyo Rose”  by Russell Warren Howe.


THE NIGHT THEY STOLE THE MONA LISA (1995):  A 15-page original treatment.  Based on the true story of the theft of Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest masterpiece from the Louvre in 1911.  This is one of the greatest caper stories in history and also one of the most unique love stories of all time.  Developed at Act III Productions and Castle Rock with Jeremy Levin (Don Juan Demarco) attached as writer/director and with Norman Lear and Julian Krainin as producers and Michael Lawrence as executive producer.  Staring Robin Williams, Renee Zellweger and Anthony Banderos. While in pre-production in Prague, the The Night They Stole the Mona Lisa was cancelled due to the financial calapse of the dot-com bubble of 1997.


THE LONG WEEKEND (1994):  A 20-page original treatment of a fictional story on a multi-million dollar robbery of the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving in Washington D.C.  A powerful suspense thriller — a high stakes caper with constant tension and a unique yet satisfying surprise ending.


QUIZ SHOW (1994):  A 24-page original treatment for a theatrical motion picture.  The Disney feature was directed by Robert Redford and starred Ralph Fiennes, John Turturro, Rob Morrow and Paul Scofield.  Produced by Julian Krainin with the original treatment written by Michael R. Lawrence.  Nominated for four Academy Awards including “Best Picture.”   Based on the documentary THE QUIZ SHOW SCANDAL, which was produced by Mr. Krainin and Mr. Lawrence for PBS.


THE BLACK SEA (1993):  An 18-page original treatment based on the amazing true story of the USS Indianapolis.   A powerful WWll story of the ship that transported the Hiroshima atomic bomb to Tinian Island.  On its return trip and due to a series of Navy Command errors, the USS Indianapolis was sunk by a human torpedo fired from a Japanese submarine.  Eight hundred helpless sailors spent a horrifying three days in shark-infested waters  — only 300 men survived the nightmare.  The ship’s captain became the scapegoat.  Of the 700 American ships lost in the Second World War, the captain of the USS Indianapolis was the only one court-martialed.


THE HOTTEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR (1993):   A 10-page original treatment.  A young Indianapolis policeman was dead.  A respected grade school teacher in jail and charged with his  murder.  This is the remarkable true story of an Everyman who got caught up in one of the most sensational crime story in the history of Indiana. The shocking event and the courtroom drama that followed dominated the media and newspaper headlines throughout the Midwest for more than a year.


GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER (1991):   A 138-page teleplay based on the book “Death of Innocence” by Peter Meyer.   A provocative true story of terror and death in the small Vermont town of Essex.  Developed at ABC Television but never produced.


JOHN BROWN (1990):  118-page original screenplay.  The mythic story of one man's fearless attack on the injustice of slavery.  In a night commando raid, a few dedicated men captured  the military compound at Harper’s Ferry.  A bloody day-long battle to hold the fortress ends in defeat.  John Brown is captured alive, brought to trial and hung.  The John Brown story is among the most powerful and engrossing stories ever told.  Co-written with multiple Pulitzer Prize winning author Jon Franklin.


DISASTER AT SILO  7 (1988):   A. 120-page re-write of an original screenplay by Douglas Lloyd Mcintosh.  An ABC Television Movie starring Michael O’Keefe, Peter Boyle and Dennis Weaver.  The chilling true story of an accident at a U.S. ballistic missile site in Arkansas.  A one-pound wrench was accidentally dropped — resulting in the largest non-nuclear explosion in history and the consequent loss of the silo's nine megaton nuclear warhead. Soon after its initial telecast, the film was broadcast in the USSR and seen on a single night by more than 200 million citizens of the Soviet Union. Developed at Paramount. 


PLUTONIUM (1986):  A 119-page original screenplay for a low-budget thriller on nuclear terrorism.  Co-written with Robert W. Broomall.  Jon Gordan was the producer and Michael Lawrence the director with a million dollar budget. After an initial green-light from Vestron Video, the company formed a new Motion Picture division, Vestron Pictures and the picture was placed in turn-around.  The project was then developed at the Independent Feature Project.  On a 5-day shooting schedule with a full crew and professional actors, a 15-minute sample reel was produced by Mr. Lawrence and screened at the IFP New York Market.    




Treatments, Scripts

Completed Productions


Breakthrough: The Gift of Life (2002):  An 11-page original documentary treatment.  A riveting portrait of human possibilities.  In 1999, extraordinary news spread quickly from Dr. Brian Druker’s research lab in Portland.  An unbelievable 95% of his patients suffering from a form of leukemia called CML had driven their cancer into total remission.  This is the story of Dr. Brian Druker’s landmark discovery and the patients whose lives he has saved, especially Suzan McNamara who ironically played a major role in bringing his magic drug to thousands of people who would have died.  Not since Oliver Sachs’ AWAKENINGS has there been a story as powerful, uplifting and life-affirming.  Developed for CNN Productions.


Tokyo Rose (2002):  An 18-page original documentary treatment.  Most Americans have never heard this story of Iva Toguri — a brave young California woman who ironically was a war hero falsely convicted of treason.  Her story is riveting and one of the strongest women’s stories in American history. The American Experience on PBS.


Norman Lear:  A Life in Three Acts (2001):  A 58-page original documentary script.  Tom Shales of the Washington Post calls Norman Lear “The most influential   producer who ever worked in television."  Producer, writer, director, political maven and media mogul, Norman Lear is one of the most striking and innovative creators in the history of entertainment in 20th Century America.  Lear granted Julian Krainin and Michael Lawrence the exclusive rights to produce a television documentary on his life and work.  Commissioned by the PBS series American Masters but never produced.


Race for the Atomic Bomb (2001):  A 24-page original treatment for a two hour documentary. The greatest story of the twentieth century has never before been fully told.  Startling new information has become available about the greatest race in history, the race to build the atomic bomb.  With what we now know about the German effort and recently revealed new information about the Japanese atomic bomb program, the full and exciting story about the riveting three-way race for the atomic bomb is told for the first time. Commissioned by Devillier Donegan Enterprises.


One American Family — Racism and Enlightenment (2001):  A 5-page original documentary treatment for the Discovery Channel.  Descendents of Sally Hemings seek to join the Jefferson Monticello Family Association.  Questionable new genetic information adds to the intense controversy. Was Thomas Jefferson the father of his slave’s children?  Like an unfolding detective story, this documentary will search and sifting through claims made on both sides of the controversy.


Trials that Shook the World (2000):  A 2-page proposal for a new series for Court TV.  The great American trials of the 20th century are etched in our memories like fables or legends.  These dramatic courtroom events are a unique window on America and often serve as witness to social change and the battleground for new ideas.


The Shuberts of Broadway (2000):  A 12-page original documentary treatment for Bravo. The Shubert Brothers’ meteoric rise from poverty to dominance over American theater in the first half of the twentieth-century is the stuff of which legends are made.  With tireless energy and boundless confidence these immigrants from Russia invaded New York City and changed forever the face of theater in America.  They would own more theaters, sell more tickets and produce more plays than any company in history.  The Shuberts single-handedly created Manhattan’s theater district and invented Broadway.


The Secret Empire — America’s Hidden World of Polygamy (2000):  A 7-page original documentary treatment for television.  The shocking and little known world of polygamy in America with a focus on the the most ruthless and extreme of its practitioners — the notorious Kingston Clan.  With multiple wives and scores of children living on welfare, they control a $150 million business empire.


The John Glenn Story:  A Return to Space and Return of the Hero. (1998 -1999)  Treatment for a two one-hour documentaries for CNN Productions.   When an Atlas rocket launched John Glenn into space in 1962, the nation held its breath.  The mission was dangerous, the rocket unpredictable, but Glenn returned safely to Earth and took his place among America’s greatest heroes.  At 78, John Glenn prepared to make history again as the oldest person ever to journey into space. Spectacular shots of mission STS-95 as Glenn views the earth from space for the first time in 36 years.  With John Glenn, Walter Cronkite, Mike McCurry, Chris Kraft, Gene Krantz and Ted Williams.  National Broadcast on CNN. 


Battle For The Airwaves (1999):  A 7-page original documentary treatment for television. Broadcasting pioneers David Sarnoff and William Paley battle for control of television and reshaped American life and culture.  The history of broadcasting is seen from the unique perspective of two of the 20th century’s most creative entrepreneurial titans and the fierce battle of their powerful personalities.


Kamikaze and Human Torpedoes (1999):  A 4-page documentary proposal.  Near the end of the war with Japan, something new to modern warfare appeared on the horizon — Kamikaze suicide attacks.  They were very successful, and soon the Japanese Imperial Navy moved the Kamikaze attacks from the air to under  the sea.  Japanese submarine torpedoes began to carry human beings inside to guide the bombs to their targets.  Human Torpedoes became something ominous, something that scared and demoralized our troops in the South Pacific.  Developed for the Discovery Channel.


Ota Benga — The Pygmy In The Zoo (1998):  An 11-page treatment for The American Experience on PBS. The true story of Ota Behga, the first Pygmy ever to travel to America and Samuel Verner, the flamboyant explorer who brought him to the 1904 Saint Louis World’s Fair.  The most unlikely buddy story ever imagined.  There was an enormous national outcry when Ota Benga became the first human being ever placed on exibit at the Bronz Zoo.


Jackie Gleason: How Sweet It Was (1998):  A 17-page treatment for a two-hour HBO special.  Orson Welles called him, “the great one.”  A biography of one of the most talented and versatile comic actors in the history of television.  Never before has the full scope of Jackie Gleason’s talent been explored from the development of his brilliant comic routines and the side-splitting humor of the hilarious characters he created — to his most touching and memorable performances in motion pictures.  Utilizing clips of Gleason's finest television work— including magic moments that have not  been seen for over 30 years ago.


The Camera Goes to War (1997):  A 6-page documentary proposal for a new Turner Broadcasting series.  A television series on the drama of life and death and the intensity of the human experience as viewed through the lens of war.


Milton Berle — Mr. Television  (1997):  A 6-page proposal for American Masters on PBS.   “Uncle Miltie” brought comedy skills honed from years in vaudeville and nightclubs to the new medium of television and changed America entertainment. So indelible was the pace he set, the sense of animation and movement, it is still the standard for TV variety and comedy.  Writer Larry Gelbart: “He was more than ‘Uncle Miltie.’  He was, in fact the founding father -- our George Washington in drag.”


Deadly Mail (1996):  An hour documentary commissioned by HBO’s America Undercover.  A chilling search for the most frightening and elusive serial bomber in American history — the Unabomber.   This chilling and revealing portrait includes exclusive interviews with those whose lives he destroyed. The Unabomber boldly taunted the FBI with clues, deliberately left behind to both mock and challenge agents to catch him.  One of the most expensive investigations in FBI history, surpassed only by the Kennedy assassination.  While in the final editing stage of the documentary, Ted Kaczynski was arrested.  Sheila Nevins (head of documentaries at HBO) decided to drop the project because the theme of the documentary was the mystery man bomber who was now known and no longer a mystery.


America’s Number One Cash Crop (1996):  A 4-page proposal for A&E Investigative Report.  High risk!  High tech!  High crime!  An unprecedented inside view of marijuana growers at work in America today.  This behind-the-scenes, cutting-edge documentary will follow two very different types of growers as they risk long prison terms to grow the dangerous but lucrative crop.  Compared to the yearly crop of corn or soybeans, marijuana is easily the largest cash crop in America.


Andrew Weil: Journey of the Healer (1996):  A 5-page proposal for Turner.   Physician, healer and best selling author Andrew Weil takes us on an extraordinary global journey in search of alternatives to traditional Western medical practices.  A jungle adventurer, an exuberant lover of life, a brilliant and iconoclastic teacher — everyone interested in health and healing will want to join this gifted and knowledgeable healer as he takes us on the adventure of a lifetime.


The Search For the Perfect Diamond (1996):  A 5-page proposal for a 90-minute television special.  Mystery, intrigue, power and dazzling beauty have always surrounded these unequaled “crystals of light.”  Women have coveted them, men have died for them, and vast legends have grown up around them.  Host Richard Chamberlain explores the allure and enchantment of diamonds and takes to the mines and diamond centers of the world.


La Guardia — The Little Man Who Saved New York (1995):  A 21-page treatment for a two-hour American Experience special on PBS.  The legendary New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was a large-than-life character with a careening falsetto and a huge Stetson hat.  While patrolling the streets of New York, he cooled riots, fed the hungry, read comic strips over the radio to children and single-handedly transformed New York City.


THE QUIZ SHOW SCANDAL (1990).  This Emmy-Nominated American Experience documentary was one of the highest rated programs in PBS history.  QUIZ SHOW, the Disney feature which was nominated for four Academy Awards and directed by Robert Redford, was based upon this documentary.  PBS Broadcast (1991, Rebroadcasts,1998, and 2002)  


The Three Pound Universe  (1994):  A 20-page proposal for a two-hour documentary.  Bringing together the enormously rich resource of cutting edge ideas and current inquiry into the nature of brain/mind.   Developed for the Library of Congress and the National Institute of Mental Health symposia "Decade of the Brain."


Weird Wonderful America (1992): A 3-page proposal for a network television series. Penn and Teller take us on a cross country look at America’s odd-ball and off-the-wall museums.  These home-grown museums are as fascinating and entertaining as the people who run them.   Often eclectic, sometimes bizarre, but never boring, these inventive collectors with their one-of-a-kind museums bring you face to face with another view of America and its people.


MEMORY & IMAGINATION: New Pathways to the Library of Congress (1989): The first film commissioned by the Library, explores the its hidden treasures and awe-inspiring prospects for the future.  The hour film features Isaac Stern, Francis Ford Coppola, Julia Child, Penn & Teller, Ted Koppel, Pete Seeger, Sam Waterston, James Watson and Steve Jobs. (National PBS Broadcast 1990)


THE MIND OF MUSIC(1979): An exploration of the magical force of music in the lives of human beings with Dr. Lewis Thomas, Gunther Schuller and Yehudi Menuhin.  This celebration of the musical experience was filmed at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. (WNET Broadcast 1980) 


THE 30-SECOND DREAM (1977):  A penetrating look at the seductive power of the ten-billion-dollar-a-year fantasy world of television commercials.   The juxtaposition of carefully selected television spots reveal how commercials exploit our hopes, fears, and fantasies. Distributed internationally by Mass Media Ministries in 1978.


THE SHARED EXPERIENCE (1976):  A broad look at information and the transmission of human experience across the ages with Dr. Lewis Thomas, Noam Chomsky and John Kenneth Galbraith. The Fine Arts Quartet perform Bach's "Art of the Fugue" which is heard throughout the film and represents both the symbol of and vehicle for the energizing creativity of the human experience. (WNET/PBS Broadcast 1977)


KOINONIA (1975):  A fascinating look at the daily life of an alternative educational and spiritual community near Baltimore.  The sixty-member community is seen farming in their organic garden, sharing meals, participating in ritual, and preparing educational workshops and seminars.  The camera observes the changing of seasons in a community close to nature and explores the community's group search for meaning in life. 


SPACECRAFT AMERICA (1973):  Pre-dating the Watergate Scandal, this prophetic satire uses commercials and TV coverage of Nixon's second inauguration to humorously demonstrate the absurdity of contemporary American culture. Winner of the Silver Award Atlanta International Film Festival