Chief among the Beatty-bashers is Daily Variety editor Peter Bart, who claims in his just-published book that the bulk of Bulworth was lifted from other works and helped along by other, uncredited writers.
"The murkiness surrounding the origins of Bulworth was sustained throughout the writing process," Bart writes in The Gross: The Hits, The Flops (St. Martin's).
Beatty lashes back at Bart in today's New York Post. "Peter Bart can be a nasty guy sometimes," the 61-year-old Hollywood legend says. "He was wildly inaccurate in his account of what took place on the picture, but because he's the editor of Variety, no one ever calls him to task for his sloppy research. I guess it's hard to sell books, but they could be in deep shit. Boy, did they not vet this book. They fucked up."
Replies Bart, a voting member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, "I have nothing against Warren. But I was bemused when he got the nomination."
In the book, the author claims ideas for the film--a story about an ideologically bereft, suicidal senator who finds redemption through straight talk and hip-hop-nation membership--came from writings by Somerset Maugham and Jules Verne.
Bart also claims that besides Beatty's official writing partner on the project, Jeremy Pikser, at least two other scribes worked on the script and went uncredited.
Bart quotes the following sources: Former 20th Century Fox production head Roger Birnbaum: Says the film concept came from a Verne story he told Beatty about in 1991.
Writer James Toback: Beatty claims the Two Girls and a Guy writer-director was only hired for several hours to "punch up" the script, but Toback insists he spent three weeks on the project. "I turned in 77 pages," he says, "but I couldn't come up with an ending. When I saw the final shooting script, there was a lot of my stuff in there."
Playwright Aaron Sorkin: Bart writes, "Sources who worked on Bulworth say they found many signs of the Sports Night creator's witty, sophisticated dialogue in the final version." Sorkin worked on the project briefly, but was fired for what his wrongful termination suit against Beatty claims were "irrational, incomprehensible and unwarranted personal animus and hostile feelings toward [him]."
But Beatty points out that the Writer's Guild of America investigated his screenplay's originality before assigning him credit. "I don't think that Jimmy or Aaron would say they want credit," he tells the newspaper. "And in any case, it's not in their hands. The Writer's Guild gives credit where it's due."