In the late 1980s, J.F. Lawton was a starving-artist screenwriter living on the seedy fringes of Hollywood Blvd. in America’s movie mecca.

Lawton worked odd jobs in post-production and struggled to pay his rent. Sometimes he slept in his car. He’d written a small shelf-full of scripts, mostly wacky comedies and ninja movies, but only one — a comedy about a one-legged lesbian stand-up comic — had absorbed that ever-elusive industry “heat.” Madonna was even interested in it at one point, Lawton will tell you.

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