`Shakespeare' film script in copycat dispute

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The Independent Online
THE MAKERS of the Oscar-tipped film Shakespeare in Love rejected claims yesterday that it may have borrowed elements of its plot from an obscure comic novel written in 1941.

Attention had been drawn to similarities between No Bed for Bacon, by Caryl Brahms and S J Simon, and the screenplay for the film about the Bard's love life co-written by the playwright Tom Stoppard and an American, Marc Norman.

No Bed for Bacon features a heroine called Viola who pretends to be a boy so she can act on the Elizabethan stage. She falls in love with a Shakespeare struggling with writer's block, who, inspired by their romance, writes one of his finest plays. Which is broadly the plot for the film, which last month collected three Golden Globe awards, including best screenplay. David Parfitt, the co-producer, rejected the claims as "nonsense". He said Mr Norman, who produced the original script that Mr Stoppard polished, "knew nothing of the book".

Mr Stoppard, who is in India, wrote to the Evening Standard pointing out that both script and book draw from the same well of Shakespeare- iana.

Some of the similarities are matters of historical fact - that Shakespeare was caught between rival theatre companies, and that women were not allowed on to the stage and so had to go in disguise.