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Scott's World -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By
VERNON SCOTT, United Press International

HOLLYWOOD, April 4 (UPI) -- Among Hollywood's ancient maxims is "Everybody's got a script in this town, including my mailman and barber." Like many another exaggeration, there's an element of truth in the saw.

A viable script, novel or "treatment" is a first step to becoming a filmmaker and the "open sesame" to wealth, fame and a cornucopia of swimming pools, beautiful starlets and a prime seat at the Oscars.

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But chances of selling a script or story are only slightly better than winning the lottery, if somewhat less lucrative.

Currently in town on a scouting mission is Dale Brown, a former U.S. Air Force captain and author of 14 consecutive New York Times best-selling military-action-aviation adventure novels.

Brown has a splendid opportunity to attract the attention of studios and producers who more often are on the prowl for a viable property than for a day at the beach with Cameron Diaz.

Brown's books are thrillers, including several that he is developing for screenplays: "Flight Of The Old Dog," "Silver Tower," "Day of the Cheetah," "Night of The Hawk," "Battle Born" and "The Tin Man."

Yet no matter how successful an author may be or however many millions of books he may sell, the distinction of having movies made from his novels attests his measure of literary glory.

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One need only examine such writers as Tom Clancy, Steven King, Agatha Christie and George Bernard Shaw, to say nothing of Bill Shakespeare and Charles Dickens who never lived to see their work on screen.

Thus, those writers who would enter Golconda find it necessary to put their genius in the hands of the barbarians who make movies or, worse, the hacks who produce TV mini-series.

Author Brown, a native of Buffalo and a graduate of Penn State University, is the recipient of several military decorations and awards for flying bombers for 20 years during the Cold War. Ergo, when Brown writes about adventures in the skies, he knows what he's writing about, which enhances the verisimilitude of his characters and story lines. His popularity is evident with the sale of more than 12 million copies of his novels.

"My new book, 'Wings of Fire,' which comes out in July, will be 350,000 copies in hard cover," Brown said this week, which assures him another best-seller. "I pretty much stick to writing about flying and the military because those have been the major elements in my professional life.

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"I try to convey the feeling military flyers experience and the peril involved in their work. It's a unique way of life and lends itself to drama."

Much like former LAPD cop-turned-author Joe Wambaugh, Brown's hard-hitting prose opens new vistas to armchair readers who are able to soar through the wild blue yonder with the author at the controls.

He takes his fans right into the cockpits of the huge bombers right down to the aroma of oil and leather that permeate that intriguing flight deck with its array of instruments and gauges, the lifeline of all aircraft.

"I really enjoy providing authenticity along with the romance of flight," Brown said.

"That's why people pick novels to read this kind of stuff. It inserts them into that world, the real world of the military that gives them a taste of dealing with assignments and the politics surrounding them.

"We have to deal with the machines, the loneliness, the fear and professionalism of the guys and girls who work in those areas. It thrills me.

"But I don't like to get too technical. That's dangerous. I get two or three dozen e-mails a day from readers who used to criticize me about so much swearing in my books.

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"I explain the only reason I include so many four-letter words is that's the way military guys talk. It's part of the jargon.

"I see it has changed over the years when I return to military units. In my career everybody smoked, now almost nobody does, and the swearing has slowed down.

"We used to smoke on bomb runs. Now you can't even smoke inside military buildings anymore. They ban cigarettes from Air Force bases."

The Pentagon and the military in general have been supportive of Brown's books.

"My perception is they have welcomed me to take a look at their new stuff because they believe I can describe it in a way favorable to them.

"They've given me extraordinary access. I was the first non-uniform individual to fly the B-1 Stealth bomber.

"It was an honor. They respect my persistence, and they know I'm not going to reveal any sensitive areas about new developments. I've never had any criticism from the Air Force."

One assumes the Pentagon will be as delighted as Brown's legions of fans to see his breathtaking stories come alive on movie screens.

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