Movie producer David O. Selznick has a problem called Gone with the Wind. He passionately wants to make the movie, but can't get a decent script out of anybody, so he hires Ben Hecht, the Chicago newspaperman and script doctor, to rewrite the screenplay, in five days, in Selznick's office. Hecht's problem is that he hasn't read the book and doesn't like the story, but he never walks away from a paycheck. So Selznick and director Victor Fleming spend five days acting out scenes from the novel while Hecht types away.

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The audience's problem is that the Moonlight and Magnolias isn't interesting. The performances (Tom Beckett as Selznick, Peter Van Norden as Hecht, John Procaccino as Fleming, and Marya Sea Kaminski as a harried secretary) are weak. The actors go through the histrionic motions of arguing, working, and gradually succumbing to exhausted delirium, but seem lethargic and unfocused, more likely a failure of direction (by the San Jose Repertory's Timothy Near) than a collective failure by the actors.

The script is anemic and leans too heavily on its connection to Gone with the Wind. (If the same play were written about a nonexistent movie, it would never be produced.) In one of its few sharp moments, Hecht browbeats Selznick for not using his wealth and influence to contribute to Jewish causes. Selznick insists that he's not Jewish, he's American. Hecht calls three eminent industry members—a publisher, a screenwriter, and an agent—on Selznick's speakerphone, asking whether each thinks of the producer as an American or a Jew. All answer the latter. It was more sobering to read afterward that the incident was historically accurate than to watch it happen on the stage.