How Franklin Leonard and the Black List changed Hollywood : Planet Money This episode originally ran in 2020.

In 2005, Franklin Leonard was a junior executive at Leonardo DiCaprio's production company. A big part of his job was to find great scripts. The only thing — most of the 50,000-some scripts registered with the Writers Guild of America every year aren't that great. Franklin was drowning in bad scripts ... So to help find the handful that will become the movies that change our lives, he needed a better way forward.

Today on the show — how a math-loving movie nerd used a spreadsheet and an anonymous Hotmail address to solve one of Hollywood's most fundamental problems: picking winners from a sea of garbage. And, along the way, he may just have reinvented Hollywood's power structure.

This episode was produced by James Sneed and Darian Woods, and edited by Bryant Urstadt, Karen Duffin and Robert Smith.

Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in
Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

Hollywood's Black List (Classic)

Hollywood's Black List (Classic)

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Rachel Murray/Getty Images for MAKERS
Franklin Leonard, creator of the Hollywood Black List.
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for MAKERS

This episode originally ran in 2020.

In 2005, Franklin Leonard was a junior executive at Leonardo DiCaprio's production company. A big part of his job was to find great scripts. The only thing — most of the 50,000-some scripts registered with the Writers Guild of America every year aren't that great. Franklin was drowning in bad scripts ... So to help find the handful that will become the movies that change our lives, he needed a better way forward.

Today on the show — how a math-loving movie nerd used a spreadsheet and an anonymous Hotmail address to solve one of Hollywood's most fundamental problems: picking winners from a sea of garbage. And, along the way, he may just have reinvented Hollywood's power structure.

This episode was produced by James Sneed and Darian Woods, and edited by Bryant Urstadt, Karen Duffin and Robert Smith.

Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

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Music: "Shark," "Take Charge" and "We Here."