Danny Strong has gone from science-fiction to politics and back to science-fiction again. And he’s picked up a writing Emmy along the way.
But don’t look at Strong as the geeky Jonathan Levinson in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” or even the awkward Danny Siegel in “Mad Men.” Instead, see him as the new writer for the final two films in the Hunger Games series “Mockingjay.” He will replace Oscar-winning writer Simon Beaufoy who is writing the second installment, “Catching Fire.”
Although Strong might be best known for his political writing in the form of “Recount” in 2008 and “Game Change” in 2012, which he won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or Movie, he also is currently working on the latest adaptation of Dan Brown’s book “The Lost Symbol,” which is a sequel to “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons.”
The two Hunger Games films are based on the book “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins, and was split by Lionsgate earlier this year to help capitalize on the popularity of “The Hunger Games,” which grossed $672.8 million worldwide on a $78 million budget. Gary Ross wrote the screenplay and directed the first part, but had to depart when Lionsgate moved up production of the sequel. Francis Lawrence, who directed the pilot episodes of “Kings” for NBC and “Touch” for Fox, was tapped to direct the second film. However, no one has been named to direct the final two films.
Lionsgate is expecting to release the two parts of “Mockingjay” in 2014 and 2015.
Strong got his start in the Saturday morning kids series “Saved by the Bell: The New Class” in 1994, and then appeared in guest spots on a variety of shows after that including “3rd Rock from the Sun,” “Seinfeld” and the television version of “Clueless” in 1997. He joined “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in 1996 as part of an “evil trio” that included Tom Lenk as Andrew Wells and Adam Busch as Warren Meers.
Strong would appear in 29 episodes of the series. Since then he has won two Emmys, and was nominated for a third (for “Recount” in 2008). Both “Recount” and “Game Change” were based on insider books of the presidential elections, with “Recount” focusing on the battle between George W. Bush and Al Gore for Florida’s recount problems in 2000 and “Game Change” centering on John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate in the 2008 presidential election against Barack Obama and Joe Biden.