CBS News Logo Aaron Sorkin to adapt Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” biography

(CNET) All rumors that "The Social Network" writer Aaron Sorkin was toying with Sony's offer to write a screenplay based on Steve Jobs' life have been substantiated. Sony announced today that the Academy Award-winning screenwriter has accepted the job. "Steve Jobs' story is unique: he was one of the most revolutionary and influential men not just of our time but of all time," co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Amy Pascal said in a statement today. "There is no writer working in Hollywood today who is more capable of capturing such an extraordinary life for the screen than Aaron Sorkin; in his hands, we're confident that the film will be everything that Jobs himself was: captivating, entertaining, and polarizing." In the tech world Sorkin is best known for his Academy Award-winning adaptation of "The Social Network," which was based on how Mark Zuckerberg built the Facebook empire. But he has also wrote screenplays for several other esteemed films, plays, and TV shows, such as "The West Wing," "Moneyball," and "A Few Good Men." Sony quickly grabbed the rights to Walter Isaacson's best-selling biopic "Steve Jobs" shortly after the Apple co-founder died from a rare form of pancreatic cancer at the age of 56 last October. According to the Web site Film, Sony sealed the deal for $1 million. Recently, rumors have surfaced that Sony was looking to get George Clooney or Noah Wyle to play the role of Jobs. This article first appeared at CNET under the headline "'Steve Jobs' biography to become Aaron Sorkin movie." Continue Reading

Excerpt: Walter Isaacson’s “Leonardo da Vinci”

Bestselling author Walter Isaacson has previously written noted biographies of such revolutionary thinkers as Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Steve Jobs.  His latest book is "Leonardo da Vinci" (Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS), about the Italian Renaissance artist and inventor. Read an excerpt from his book below -- and don't miss Dr. Jon LaPook's interview with Isaacson on "Sunday Morning" October 15!  Chapter 1 Vinci, 1452-1464 Leonardo da Vinci had the good luck to be born out of wedlock. Otherwise, he would have been expected to become a notary, like the firstborn legitimate sons in his family stretching back at least five generations. His family roots can be traced to the early 1300s, when his great-great- great-grandfather, Michele, practiced as a notary in the Tuscan hill town of Vinci, about seventeen miles west of Florence.* With the rise of Italy's mercantile economy, notaries played an important role drawing up commercial contracts, land sales, wills, and other legal documents in Latin, often garnishing them with historical references and literary flourishes. * Leonardo da Vinci is sometimes incorrectly called "da Vinci," as if that were his last name rather than a descriptor meaning "from Vinci." However, the usage is not as egregious as some purists proclaim. During Leonardo's lifetime, Italians increasingly began to regularize and register the use of hereditary surnames, and many of these, such as Genovese and DiCaprio, derived from family hometowns. Both Leonardo and his father, Piero, frequently appended "da Vinci" to their names. When Leonardo moved to Milan, his friend the court poet Bernardo Bellincioni referred to him in writing as "Leonardo Vinci, the Florentine." Because Michele was a notary, he was entitled to the honorific "Ser" and thus became known as Ser Michele da Vinci. His son and grandson were even more successful notaries, the latter becoming a chancellor of Florence. The next in line, Antonio, Continue Reading

Transcript: Walter Isaacson on “Face the Nation,” Nov. 26, 2017

"Face the Nation" sat down on Sunday with Walter Isaacson, author of "Leonardo da Vinci," to discuss the artist's genius and creativity.  What follows is a transcript of the interview, which aired Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, on "Face the Nation." DICKERSON: We're joined now by Walter Isaacson, the author of a new book, "Leonardo Da Vinci," which explores the life and work of the original renaissance man. All right, Walter, you were my boss. You always said stories are at the heart of these things. So what story for you starts it with Leonardo? WALTER ISAACSON, "LEONARDO DA VINCI": I think when he turns that unnerving milestone of becoming 30 years old and he's been -- you and I remember that a bit. And he's been a painter, moderately successful in Florence, but he has trouble finishing his paintings. And it's kind of worse because his father is a notary and has notarized some of the contracts of those paintings. So Leonardo decides it's time to seek new horizons. And so he's part of a delegation that goes from Florence to Milan, a cultural delegation because that's how Florence had its influence. You know, it was -- it didn't have a great military. It kept losing the Pisa. But, you know, they would send it to architects and artists, other cities, and so Florence became, you know, what Joe Nye (ph) would call soft power. And so he goes there and he goes as a musician because he's invented a lot of musical instruments. But when he gets the Milan, he doesn't want to go home. So he writes the coolest job application letter in history. It's 11 paragraphs. And the first ten are all about what he can do in engineer and anatomy and art and science and controlling the flows of waters and building castles. Only in the 11th paragraph at the end does he say, I can also paint as well as anyone. And so you see Leonardo loving everything in nature just wanting to be, you know, a jack of all trades. DICKERSON: Is that his key quality, that he had this rapacious just hunger for Continue Reading

Walter Isaacson on Leonardo da Vinci: Curiosity “enriches your life”

Walter Isaacson, author of "Leonardo da Vinci," says an important lesson to take away from the famed painter who is at the center of his latest biography is that "being curious about everything not only makes you more creative, it enriches your life. " "What makes him a creative genious I think is that he was curious about everything," Isaacson said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday. "It was a curiosity that was passionate, playful, and it was curiosity for its own sake, which is what make him feel the patterns of nature," he added. Asked about the mystery and allure of one of a Vinci's most well-known works, the Mona Lisa, Issacson called it a "culmination of somebody who spent a life looking at science anatomy geology, but also philosophy and spirituality." "Every time you see her she seems to have a different emotion, and you have a different emotion, and the smile flickers back on. This is magical. It's showing inner emotion reflected on a face," he said. Isaacson called da Vinci "very collegial, very friendly," saying he had everybody at the time "refer to him as their best friend." He added, "He makes everybody feel the way to be more creative is not to specialize, not to silo yourself as we sometimes do to our kids, but to curious about everything for curiosity's sake." For more of Isaacson's discussion on da Vinci with John Dickerson, watch the full interview above.  Continue Reading

​Walter Isaacson on the traits of “Innovators”

Many of the most important dreamers and doers of our high-tech age are finally getting the recognition they deserve, thanks to a writer who makes spotting genius his business. Rita Braver has been watching him at work: It's the San Francisco Techcrunch "Disrupt" conference, showcasing the latest digital products And just when you're thinking, "Everyone looks so young," you catch up with a silver-haired fellow who knows just what to watch for: "Instead of looking at a product, I tend to look at the people behind it and say, 'Are they gonna be able to innovate, and change when their original plan doesn't work?'" said Walter Isaacson. Isaacson has spent years studying what it takes to make in the Internet era. His biography of Steve Jobs was the top-selling book of 2011. This month, he's out with "The Innovators," published by CBS's Simon and Schuster. Already nominated for a National Book Award, it's the story of how a group of visionaries -- many of them unsung -- created the computer and Internet revolution. What made them succeed? What traits did it take? "I wanted to give real, concrete storytelling meaning to, 'What does it mean to be an innovator?'" said Isaacson. Case in point: Ev Williams, a college dropout, who's a creator of both (the first program making it easy to blog) and Twitter. Today, with his net worth estimated at $3 billion, he says he wasn't sure that either project would take off. "You can look back and say, 'Yes, I knew exactly that the world needed this," said Williams. "But it's really a process of discovery, I think. It's like you're exploring, and you're going by your gut." Isaacson says the genius of people like Williams is that they see things in ways that the rest of us can't: "They take all the little things that are there, the building blocks that have already been created, and they do something creative and imaginative," he said. You might be surprised to learn one of the pioneers Isaacson credits with first Continue Reading

​Book excerpt: Walter Isaacson’s “The Innovators”

Excerpted from "The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution" by Walter Isaacson. Copyright © 2014 by Walter Isaacson. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., a division of CBS. All Rights Reserved. INTRODUCTION How This Book Came to Be The computer and the Internet are among the most important inventions of our era, but few people know who created them. They were not conjured up in a garret or garage by solo inventors suitable to be singled out on magazine covers or put into a pantheon with Edison, Bell, and Morse. Instead, most of the innovations of the digital age were done collaboratively. There were a lot of fascinating people involved, some ingenious and a few even geniuses. This is the story of these pioneers, hackers, inventors, and entrepreneurs -- who they were, how their minds worked, and what made them so creative. It's also a narrative of how they collaborated and why their ability to work as teams made them even more creative. The tale of their teamwork is important because we don't often focus on how central that skill is to innovation. There are thousands of books celebrating people we biographers portray, or mythologize, as lone inventors. I've produced a few myself. Search the phrase "the man who invented" on Amazon and you get 1,860 book results. But we have far fewer tales of collaborative creativity, which is actually more important in understanding how today's technology revolution was fashioned. It can also be more interesting. We talk so much about innovation these days that it has become a buzzword, drained of clear meaning. So in this book I set out to report on how innovation actually happens in the real world. How did the most imaginative innovators of our time turn disruptive ideas into realities? I focus on a dozen or so of the most significant breakthroughs of the digital age and the people who made them. What ingredients produced their creative leaps? What Continue Reading

Isaacson’s new book celebrates genius of Leonardo da Vinci

NEW YORK — Researching the life of Leonardo da Vinci left Walter Isaacson in a playful mood. “He’s the most fun, joyous person I can imagine,” says the best-selling biographer, whose “Leonardo da Vinci” was released Oct. 17. “And that was the big surprise. I thought he was going to be this brooding genius.” Isaacson, 65, sees the da Vinci book as the culmination of his biographies about innovators that include works on Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. Long fascinated by those who wedded logic and creativity, he says da Vinci left us with dazzling works of art and scientific breakthroughs and was also a model for a more joyous and spontaneous way of life. Isaacson spent extensive time with Jobs, but his book on da Vinci, who died in 1519, seems more personal. Isaacson doesn’t just describe the “Mona Lisa” and other paintings, but adds analysis and reflection. Basing much of his book on Leonardo’s thousands of notebook entries, with a given page often including sketches and thoughts on anything from human anatomy to his household budget, Isaacson became so caught up in da Vinci’s limitless curiosity that the book’s “coda” is his own brief — admittedly random — report on the tongue of a woodpecker. Isaacson intends the book as a da Vinci tribute, right down to its design: “Leonardo da Vinci” is printed on 80 stock paper with high-definition illustrations. And in the spirit of blending art and technology, Isaacson spoke to museum curators and technology leaders. Bill Gates, who in the 1990s purchased Leonardo’s scientific writings, otherwise known as the Codex Leicester, gave Isaacson special access to the notebooks. Art historian and da Vinci scholar Marco Cianchi, who consulted with Isaacson on the manuscript, calls the book a “biography with a special point of view,” one that joins Leonardo with the Continue Reading

Q&A with Anna Isaacson, the NFL’s VP of social responsibility

When the outrage from the NFL's Ray Rice fiasco boiled over in 2014, commissioner Roger Goodell turned to the league's vice president for community affairs, Anna Isaacson, to bail him out. Isaacson got a new title — vice president of social responsibility — and new responsibilities. She is now the NFL's primary liaison with the league-supported organizations that provide support to domestic violence and sexual assault victims. The Daily News recently met with Isaacson so talk about how the league responded to one of the biggest controversies in Goodell's decade-long tenure as commissioner. Daily News: Roger Goodell and the NFL faced a great deal of criticism for the way the NFL responded to domestic abuse and sexual violence in 2014 after the commissioner suspended Ray Rice for just two games, despite videos that showed the Ravens star punching his now-wife and dragging her limp body out of an elevator. How did the NFL respond to this criticism? Isaacson: The way we really approached this starting in September, 2014 was to think about it as a three-pronged approach. First we looked at our policies and what needed to be changed and updated. The second prong was looking internally — looking at the NFL family. What education did we feel was important to give everyone in the NFL family — from owners to players to coaches to staff? What training should we do? What resources should we provide for family members? The third prong was really the external, public-facing prong — what should we be communicating? How can the NFL take a public leadership stance on issues like domestic violence and sexual assault? How can we bring these tough topics out of the dark and into the light? In September 2014 we took this listening tour. We went all over the country. It was a few of us — it was me, Commissioner Goodell and several others. We met with 150-plus experts. We decided that there were some real impactful things that we could do. Continue Reading

Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson reveals his obsession with veganism, carrot and apple fasts

Steve Jobs made his mark as a tech innovator, but he likely could have found success as a food critic instead, according to a new book. The newly released bio "Steve Jobs", which hit stores Tuesday, reveals another, quirkier side to the Apple founder. A rebellious and fairly abrasive young man, Jobs was reportedly significantly affected by the book "Diet for a Small Planet" which he read during his college years. "That's when I pretty much swore off meat for good," Jobs said, according to Entertainment Weekly's review on the book. The book prompted him to embrace extreme carrot and apple fasts, biographer Walter Isaacson reveals, and to include a large amount of steamed or grilled broccoli and asparagus in his diet. Jobs believed his vegan diet made him was impervious to body odor - as a youngster, he didn't shower everyday and even shunned deodorant - Isaacson told 60 Minutes host, Steve Kroft. His newfound passion also reportedly affected him at work - he was assigned the night shift at his first job at Atari videogames because no one could stand how he smelled. Near the end of his life, Jobs remained extremely fussy about food. He often wanted to fast when he needed to eat, his biographer reveals, and regularly dismissed the smoothies served to him for his surgical recovery. His wife Laurene Powell told Isaacson she had to force him to eat which created a "tense atmosphere at home." Jobs’ palate was as extremely sensitive as it was possibly destructive. "He could taste two avocados that seemed completely indistinguishable and declare that one was the best avocado ever grown and the other in edible," Isaacson said. Isaacson conducted roughly 40 interviews with the former Apple CEO to write the tell-all, including one just two weeks before his death. The book, which had already sold millions of copies in pre-order before its release, is slated to become this year's top seller, according to Forbes. Continue Reading

Thrift store shopper, Washington D.C. photographer Jenna Isaacson does cross-country treasure hunt

One man's trash is another woman's great find, whether it's trendy leather boots or taxidermied frogs. Or clothes with labels that say Dior. You just don't see them anywhere but New York City, says Jenna Isaacson Pfueller, who is charting the hidden world of thrift stores for her Web site Pfueller has encountered plenty of odd knickknacks during her shopping trips. The 31-year-old photographer grew up thrifting with her grandfather in Illinois and, later, Florida. Through the years, Pfueller, now based in Washington, D.C., has collected all sorts of vintage, hard-to-find items, but her fondest memory of thrifting doesn't end in a purchase. "One of the first times he took me, a roller-skating rink around the area somewhere had just replaced all their skates with newer ones and donated the old ones to the thrift stores," Pfueller remembers. "There were hundreds of pairs of roller skates, and I remember just looking at them and thinking, 'This is fun waiting to happen.'" Now, Pfueller wants to take her hobby on the road. Her mission is to hit up thrift stores across the country this summer and photograph objects that end up in their bins. To support her project, she is trying to raise money via, an online funding platform for the arts. So far, Pfueller has received $2,685 in pledges, but she'll only get the money if the full goal of $7,000 is pledged by her April 10 deadline. "Ideally, I would be in a second-hand RV or bus," Pfueller says. "I can just live in it and try to hit most of the Western states, hitting stores along the way and documenting what I see and what I find." Washington D.C. based photographer Jenna Isaacson, is rifling through thrift stores across the country. (Rosier/News) It turns out all these old, unwanted goods can tell us a lot about an area. "In Florida, there's a lot of wheelchairs and canes. You gauge this is an older population," she explains. Meanwhile, the donated wares in Continue Reading