Scott Lew, Inspirational Screenwriter Who Fought ALS to the End, Dies at 48

Courtesy of Ann Lew
Scott Lew

He directed 'Bickford Shmeckler’s Cool Ideas' while in a wheelchair and completed his final script by twitching his mouth to make one letter at a time.

Scott Lew, a screenwriter and director who kept working to the end despite a long battle with ALS, has died. He was 48.

Lew died Feb. 25 at his Valley Glen home in Los Angeles, his wife, Ann, told The Hollywood Reporter. He was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in June 2003.

Lew completed his script for Bickford Shmeckler’s Cool Ideas in 1999 and then directed the romantic comedy, which was released in 2006, while confined to a wheelchair. The film starred Patrick Fugit, Olivia Wilde, John Cho and Matthew Lillard.

Lew also penned the 2013 movie Sexy Evil Genius, starring Seth Green and Katee Sackhoff. By then, he had become a pentaplegic, needing a ventilator to breathe and a laser-controlled computer device to write.

Lew wrote a 2007 episode of the Stephen King USA Network series The Dead Zone and continued to sell scripts to studios and networks including ABC, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate for the rest of his life.

In his final weeks, he spelled out screenplays to his assistant and his wife, one letter at a time, by twitching a corner of his mouth. He submitted his final one, a comedy, in January.

Lew's inspirational battle against ALS was documented in Jujitsu-ing Reality, an Oscar shortlist entry for best documentary short in 2013. "Trapped inside this body lives a brain that isn't finished," he writes in the film.

Born in Chicago on Sept. 24, 1968, Lew was the oldest of two sons. He grew up in Northbrook, Ill., and attended Glenbrook North High School and then the University of Michigan, where he majored in creative writing.

After receiving a master’s degree from the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC, Lew worked at IRS Records and developed scripts for Beacon Pictures. In 1999, he sold his Bickford Shmeckler screenplay and joined the WGA.

He appeared in a wheelchair in a 2008 episode of Reno 911!.

Lew married Ann in 2000, and their twin sons Rocky and Roman were born in 2009.

A funeral service is taking place today at Shalom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights, Ill. Another memorial will be held at 9:30 a.m. on March 13 at the Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Stephen Wise School.

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