LOS ANGELES - This is a story about a storyteller and screenwriter, Phil Johnston. Phil's latest work is the animated Disney tale, "Wreck-It Ralph."
The man who co-wrote Disney's latest film lives in east Los Angeles with his wife, Jill, and two kids.
But he used to live in a little apartment in Uptown back when he used to write a different kind of story as a reporter for KARE 11.
When Phil worked at KARE he wrote stories about everything from tornadoes to murders to fishermen.
Phil says he loved his job at KARE, but right before turning 30 he quit.
He says he asked himself, "what is the dream?" And while sitting on a couch in his apartment on Irving Avenue with his wife, the answer came to him.
His dream was to work in film.
Phil quit his reporting job and moved to New York to attend film school.
After four years at Columbia Film School, Phil moved to L.A. where he found success with one of his first screenplays, "Cedar Rapids."
The movie, "Cedar Rapids," is based on a group of people attending a convention in a rundown hotel in Iowa.
Phil says it was partly inspired by his time at KARE.
"There are certain kinds of hotels, frankly from news, thank you KARE 11," Phil said. "You're staying in these crummy hotels smelling the chlorine and going this can't be good for me."
Since the release of Cedar Rapids, Phil has been busy with all kinds of projects. He's collaborating on a movie script with comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and he's working on a television pilot with the Coen Brothers.
But his favorite project right now is the adaptation of the book, "Confederacy of Dunces."
"Every fat comedian has been attached to this project," Phil said, "John Candy, Chris Farley, John Goodman."
Phil pointed out that Goodman is the only comedian once attached to the project who is still alive.
Phil's version of the film will star the wildly popular, Zach Galifinakas.
Phil took a moment to mention that he hopes Galifinakas doesn't die before the film gets made.
"I don't particularly care about him," he joked, "I just want the movie to be made."
All of his recent projects are attached to blockbuster names.
But when it comes to blockbuster movies, it doesn't get any bigger than Disney Studios where Phil and "Wreck-It Ralph's" director, Rich Moore, gave us a behind the scenes tour.
I asked Moore, if, by the time a movie like this is made he is tired of the characters. He joked the only character he is tired of his co-conspirator, Phil.
During their four-year collaboration, Phil and Rich would come up with ideas, put them on paper and then hand them over to Disney's talented animators.
Phil said he would have an idea how something would look but when the animators got done with it, their creativity would "blow his mind."
When asked if he ever could have imagined writing a Disney movie and working out of their studios as a kid growing up in Neenah, Wis., Phil said it never would have occurred to him that it was even a possibility.
And when asked to fill in the blank about his own life using the famous Disney line, "once upon a time," Phil thought for a moment and said, "Once upon a time, there was a guy who ended doing exactly what he wanted to do and will hopefully get that privilege the rest of his life"
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