Exec lists most-liked '09 screenplays

Aaron Sorkin project among Franklin Leonard's picks this year

The Black List has landed in industry stockings.

Franklin Leonard, now an executive at Universal, released the 2009 edition of his compendium of the "most liked" screenplays of this past year Friday morning. Leonard's annual survey of industry friends and contacts began five years ago and typically arrives in e-mail boxes just before the holidays (it began because he wanted some good scripts to read over vacation.)

At the top is Christopher Weekes' "The Muppet Man," about Muppet creator Jim Henson, which the Henson Co. is producing. Repped by WME and Circle of Confusion, Weekes is still relatively new to the writing game.

Second is veteran Aaron Sorkin's screenplay for "The Social Network," the Facebook origin story that David Fincher has been filming for an October release from Columbia. Another WME client, Sorkin has high-profile scripts for Columbia's "Moneyball" and DreamWorks' "The Trial of the Chicago 7" in development.

Third is Michael Perry's screenplay "The Voices," which Vertigo Entertainment ("The Uninvited") is producing. The off-kilter story follows a schizophrenic worker at a bathtub factory who starts taking advice from his foul-mouthed cat and dog while trying to cover up an accidental murder.

Perry, repped by UTA and Kaplan/Perrone, is another newcomer. Mark Romanek ("One Hour Photo") is developing the project.

Fourth is Aaron Guzikowski's "Prisoners," a dark thriller and morality tale that drew a lot of interest from studios and directors when it hit town before Warner Bros. ultimately grabbed it. Guzikowski, also a rookie, is repped by WME and Madhouse. Antoine Fuqua ("Brooklyn's Finest") is directing.

WME comes out well on top in repping lit talent on the list.

Unsurprisingly, as the list has gained in notoriety each year, many more of the scripts on the list have already been snatched up by studios and production companies. According to the list, very few of the scripts are currently available.

As such, the list now reps less an announcement of unknown talent than a validation of those newer writers who have already made headway into the screenwriting machine.