Ben Mezrich: Accidental Billionaires, The Social Network, and Writing Advice


Accidental Billionaires As you probably know, The Social Network is opening today in movie theaters. The film is inspired by Ben Mezrich's non-fiction book, The Accidental Billionaires. Ben has previously offered some golden nuggets of writing advice on the WEbook blog as part of our Bestselling Author Q&A series, and it's great to see him having continued success.

The Social Network has been generating a lot of buzz and controversy over the past few weeks, as many members of the tech community have claimed the movie inaccurately portrays both Mark Zuckerberg and the circumstances in which he created Facebook.

While The Social Network debate is in the foreground, especially after Zuckerberg's $100 Million challenge grant to the Newark school systems (working to bolster that rep, eh Mark?) here's a lesser known fact about the film:

Aaron Sorkin's script for The Social Network isn't actually based off of Ben Mezrich's book, The Accidental Billionaires. Rather, Sorkin based his script off of the book proposal that Mezrich submitted to publishers (and movie studios) prior to writing the actual text. In an article from New York Magazine detailing the movie's production, it is noted that Sorkin and Mezrich compared notes with each other at one point, but the two projects were, for the most part, created independently from one another.

Since Ben Mezrich has gotten so much attention for his non-fiction writing, we thought it would be interesting to quickly re-visit his motivation for switching from fiction to the factual tales for which he's become known. Here's his response, taken from WEbook's Q&A series:  

"I love these true, wild stories that I write now, about young people doing wild things and making fortunes. I switched because I ran into these MIT kids in a bar and they invited me along for the ride. Now I feel like this is my voice, what I want to write. I’ll probably do fiction here and there, but the true stories turn me on."

We hope Ben keeps bumping into interesting people and writing about them. Someone at WEbook might be catching a showing of The Social Network this weekend, so stay tuned for more coverage! 

Question for the weekend: What's your favorite biopic film of all time? 

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  1. My all time favorite is the 1941 biopic 'Citizen Kane', more recently I really enjoyed 'Capote', which came out in 2005 I believe. This may seem like an odd question, but I wonder why 'Mask' (the movie) isn’t considered a biopic, yet 'Silkwood' is?

  2. Lyle Blake Smythers4 October 2010 at 04:57

    In case no one else has pointed it out, CITIZEN KANE is not a biopic. It is not about William Randolph Hearst but about a fictionalized character, Charles Foster Kane, who is based on William Randolph Hearst. You may dismiss this as a technicality if you wish, but I feel that it is an important difference.


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