Married scribes' pics to square off

Wernick and Hsiao have films opening Oct. 2

As if screenwriters don't have to deal with enough discouragement, scribes Paul Wernick and Rita Hsiao have a uniquely dispiriting situation looming.

When Columbia Pictures moved the wide release of its horror-comedy "Zombieland," which Wernick wrote with Rhett Reese, up to Oct. 2, it was just taking advantage of an attractive fall date. But that same day, Disney/Pixar will rerelease "Toy Story 2" in a 3D version. That mega-hit was co-written by Hsiao.

Normally, this would just be two screenwriters competing for attention at the boxoffice. Happens every single weekend. Except that Wernick and Hsiao share a bathroom, a bank account and two kids.

"I'm no different than most people in Hollywood," Wernick said. "Except this time I'm rooting against my wife, not my friends."

Added Hsiao: "It would be wonderful for Paul to experience what it's like to be No. 1 in something."

Hsiao worked in television before writing on several Disney projects, including "Mulan" and "Dinosaur." Reese also worked on the latter release, met Hsiao and introduced her to his Phoenix high school buddy Wernick.

Wernick and Hsiao married a few years later and now have a 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. When Wernick came home and announced to his family that "Zombieland" and "Toy Story 2" were going to face off, his son Cayson panicked about whom he is supposed to support before finally taking the pragmatic approach.

"I want Dad to win," Cayson said. "He gets residuals."

Granted, there is unlikely to be much audience overlap between those looking to see Woody and Buzz take on Stinky Pete and those hoping to see Woody Harrelson take a buzzsaw to the stinky undead. But it's still an impressive and intriguing anomaly.

A reality TV writer-producer, Wernick wrote a draft of Columbia/Marvel's "Venom" with Reese, and the two are writing the feature "Earth vs. Moon" for Scott Stuber at Universal. Hsiao has also worked on the screenplays for "I Dream of Jeannie" and "A Guy Not Taken," at DreamWorks.

Wernick and Hsiao, who were both Endeavor clients, are now repped by WME, the result of another recent, though much less amicable, Hollywood marriage.