Facebook has slammed The Social Network as a work of "fiction" that lies to be entertaining. Yet a company spokesman ended up inadvertently writing a climactic line of dialog that ties the Facebook movie together. Whoops.
Facebook spokesman Elliot Schrage's critique of the script was so poetic filmmakers stole his dialog, according to a story in the new Wired (not online) and to a story in New York. The words were apparently intended to persuade producer Scott Rudin to go easy on CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The new Wired makes it clear the repurposing of his dialog was not Facebook's idea:
Rudin... assidiuously solicited Facebook's involvement, even slipping the company a copy of the script and eventually showing senior officials a cut of the movie. Facebook's official spokesperson inadvertently contributed a line to the movie: Critiquing the script, he said, "Every creation myth needs a devil."
That line, it turns out, is no ordinary part of the script. It's delivered in the movie by one of Zuckerberg's lawyers, who is urging the college-aged co-founder to settle, rather than fight, a suit that accuses him of stealing the idea for his burgeoning social number. TechCrunch called it "the most resonant line in the film," and CNET's Caroline McCarthy also quoted the dialog prominently in her review. One CNET reader considered the words so essential to The Social Network's conclusion that he called out McCarthy for the quote, writing, "you should put a spoiler alert in your post. Some people aren't going to realize... you recited a conversation from the end of the movie." The line is, at least, not the absolute final sequence of words in the movie. Just a key one.
Despite their contribution to The Social Network, Facebook executives do not like the film, continuing to call it "fiction" in statements to the press. They were also unhappy after they watched a cut screened for them by Rudin, Rudin has said.
From the beginning, Facebook honchos were disinclined to support The Social Network, which was based on a book by Ben Mezrich that had CEO Mark Zuckerberg feuding with his co-founders, banging groupies in a campus bathroom and taking home a Victoria's Secret model.
So the company can't be happy to have aided and abetted the "creation myth." But Schrage may not have undermined Facebook too much; in New York Rudin called the flack's line "a great rebuttal" to Zuckerberg's critics. And come Oscar season, who knows - maybe even Zuckerberg's loyal spin doctor will be persuaded to accept a red carpet ticket.
[Photo, top, from The Social Network trailer. Photo of Schrage via Facebook.]