Blind Boone: The Screenplay
by Max Morath, ragtime legend, and screenwriter Moss Hall

Winner at the 2015 Nashville Film Festival for the best music-inspired screenplay

Blind Boone

The new screenplay BLIND BOONE, by ragtime legend Max Morath and screenwriter Moss Hall, recently won first place in the category Music-Inspired Drama at the 2015 Nashville Film Festival. Based on the life of John William Boone (1864-1927), it is the true story of an African-American pianist who conquered blindness, poverty and racism to achieve world fame as a concert artist. It is not a documentary, but a bio-drama that explores from childhood, Boone’s astonishing success. His savant-like ability to immediately replay on the piano any composition heard only once, amazed his audiences and baffled scientists. Coupled with his charm as a raconteur and his command of the classics, especially the works of Chopin and Liszt, he enjoyed a 45-year career of over 8,000 concerts for white and black audiences throughout the United States and Canada.

MAX MORATH has played a major role for many years in the rediscovery of ragtime and American popular music. Since the 1960s, his series of one-man theatricals such as "Living a Ragtime Life” have premiered Off-Broadway in New York and been followed by extensive national tours. A singer and pianist, he has recorded primarily for the Vanguard label and for RCA, Epic, and New World. His media credits include two early TV series and a number of specials for PBS, network appearances on Today, Tonight, the Kraft Music Hall and Bell Telephone Hour, and many years as a regular guest of Arthur Godfrey on CBS radio. His radio series "Ragtime to the Max" is currently heard nationally on the WFMT Radio Network, and he appears frequently as a lecturer at festival and seminars, most recently at the West Coast Ragtime Festival and Jazz at Lincoln Center. He is a graduate of Colorado College, the Stanford-NBC Radio &Television Institute, and Columbia University (M.A. American Studies, 1996.)

MOSS HALL has been writing, producing and directing for theatre, film and television for many years. With a degree in Film/TV from UCLA, he also attended the Yale School of Drama, where he studied theatre and playwriting. He had a number of original one-act plays produced at both schools. As a writer/producer/director in film and television, Moss’s network credits on PBS include his collaboration with Max Morath on the pioneering series “The Ragtime Era,” and the production of other national award-winning programs. Several of his motion picture screenplays have been optioned for production or have been recognized in major screenwriting competitions. His award-winning nonfiction book was optioned by ESPN for a major cable TV drama series.

The veteran pianist/composer/conductor Dick Hyman has agreed to score the film, including the dubbing of Blind Boone’s on-screen piano solos -- from the19th century classics to the raucous rags of the St. Louis saloons. In a busy career that began in the 1950s, he has produced orchestral compositions, concert appearances and well over 100 albums. Dick Hyman has also maintained a parallel career in the film business, scoring a dozen Woody Allen films -- from Zelig to The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, plus others including Moonstruck, Scott Joplin, and The Lemon Sisters. As a long-time student of ragtime and other early forms of American music, no one is better-suited to undertake the musical sweep demanded by this screenplay.