Ronald Bass

Ronald Bass (born March 26, 1942) sometimes credited as Ron Bass, is an American screenwriter and film producer. Bass's work is characterized as being highly in demand, and he is thought to be among the most highly paid writers in Hollywood. He is often called the "King of the Pitches". In 1988, he received the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Rain Man, and films that Bass is associated with are regularly nominated for multiple motion picture awards. His films have grossed over $2 billion dollars.[1][2]

Ronald Bass
Ronald Jay Bass

(1942-03-26) March 26, 1942
Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Life and career

Bass was born in Los Angeles, California. From the age of 3 to 11, Bass was afflicted with an undiagnosed condition that kept him bedridden. His symptoms included respiratory problems and stomach pains with high fevers and nausea. It was during this illness, at age six, that Bass is said to have started writing.

During his teens, Bass began work on a novel, which he entitled Voleur. He completed this work at age 17 and showed it to his English teacher. He took her critique of his first completed project quite hard. She described the writing as very good, but she felt that it was too personal to be published. Bass's response was to later burn his manuscript. Later in life, Bass recalled "it was like the voice of God telling me I didn't have what it takes to be a writer, and I should find something practical to do with my life". Bass would revisit his teenage writings later in life.

Bass entered law studies, first at Stanford, then Yale, and finally at Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 1967 with a degree in law. He seemed quite confident about his future prospects, saying, "When I learned there was such a thing as entertainment law, I thought, 'This is where I belong'". Back in Los Angeles, Bass began a seventeen-year career practicing law in the entertainment business. He was successful, and eventually rose to the level of partner in his law firm.

Bass has worked with his sister Diane Bass, who served as an uncredited technical consultant on the film Rain Man.

As he moved up the career ladder in law, the love of writing that Bass had acquired as a child never left him. He started writing again, usually during the predawn hours before going to work. Writing and working at unusual hours became a lifelong habit of his. In 1974, he began to rework his novel Voleur, apparently from memory, as he had burned the manuscript in a fit of pique when he was 17. In 1978, he completed the work, renaming it The Perfect Thief (ISBN 0-515-04622-1). This was the first of his three published novels. In 1982, Bass published his second novel, Lime's crisis: A novel (ISBN 0-688-01025-3). The Lime referred to in the title is Harry Lime, the central mystery character of the 1949 motion picture The Third Man. On January 1, 1984, his third novel was published, The Emerald Illusion (ISBN 0-688-02622-2). The following year, he wrote the screenplay Code Name: Emerald, based on this novel. It was his debut as a screenwriter with a produced script.[3]

As a screenwriter, Bass is known for successfully working in collaboration with other writers, including Amy Tan on The Joy Luck Club and Al Franken on When a Man Loves a Woman.

Bass is currently producing the upcoming film The Moon and the Sun.

"The Ronettes"

A small controversy has arisen over Bass's use of assistants to help him write screenplays. While it is common for screenwriters to employ assistants to help them with research and typing, Bass employs six or seven mostly female assistants that one journalist dubbed "The Ronettes". According to Bass, his assistants help him in research and also in critiquing his scripts. They enable him to write, revise, or polish a comparatively large number of screenplays each year.[4][5]



  • The Perfect Thief, 1978, ISBN 0-515-04622-1
  • Lime's crisis: A novel, 1982, ISBN 0-688-01025-3
  • The Emerald Illusion, January 1, 1984, ISBN 0-688-02622-2


Please see the WGA screenwriting credit system for an explanation of the terms story by, screenplay by, and written by. Also note that under the rules of the Writers Guild of America, Bass has not received on-screen credit for every script he has contributed to. It is thought that Bass has helped to write or consulted on more than 100 screenplays (not all of which have necessarily been produced).

FilmYearWriting CreditProducing CreditAlternate Name CreditAdditional Information
Code Name: Emerald1985ScreenplayAdapted from his novel The Emerald Illusion
Gardens of Stone1987Screenplay
Black WidowWritten
Rain Man1988screenplayAcademy Award for Best Original Screenplay
Sleeping with the Enemy1991Screenplay
The Joy Luck Club1993ScreenplayProducer
When a Man Loves a WomanWrittenExecutive producerRole as "AA Man #1"
The Enemy WithinTeleplayas Ron BassMade-for-television
Waiting to Exhale1995ScreenplayExecutive producer
Dangerous MindsScreenplay
My Best Friend's Wedding1997WrittenProducer
Stepmom1998ScreenplayExecutive produceras Ron Bass
What Dreams May ComeScreenplayExecutive produceras Ron Bass
How Stella Got Her Groove BackScreenplayExecutive produceras Ron Bass
Snow Falling on Cedars1999ScreenplayProduceras Ron Bass
EntrapmentStory & screenplayExecutive produceras Ron Bass
Swing VoteWrittenas Ron BassMade-for-television
Invisible ChildStoryas Ron BassMade-for-television
Border LineStory & teleplayas Ron BassMade-for-television
Passion of Mind2000WrittenProduceras Ron Bass
The Lazarus Child2005ScreenplayExecutive producer
Mozart and the WhaleWrittenProduceras Ron Bass
Amelia2009ScreenplayExecutive producer
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan2011Screenplay
Before We Go2014Screenplay
The King's DaughterTBAScreenplay


  1. Friend, Tad (17 January 2000). "The Two-Billion-Dollar Man" via
  2. "The Making of 'Rain Man'".
  3. Dutka, Elaine (10 August 1997). "Ron Bass, Screenwriting Machine" via LA Times.
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-02-14. Retrieved 2006-02-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "So Long, Soho House! Why Hollywood Players Are Working in Offbeat Offices".
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