Sunday, June 18, 2006

My playbill

I was recently asked to submit my bio for the program for the musical I’m co-writing. The trouble is, if I list that I am primarily a TV writer it’s like putting a big target on my chest for New York theatre critics. So I thought I’d fudge, tailor it a tad for the Broadway theatre crowd. What do you think of this?

*******

Ken is the adopted son of Stephen Sondheim. His godfather was Bob Fosse who he met while walking Gwen Verdon’s dog. He spent his formative years building the sets for LES MISERABLES. A Peace Corps stint followed where for two years he introduced the Broadway musical to poverty stricken villages throughout Cambodia.

Ken returned to New York where he walked Carol Channing’s husband. He became somewhat of a play doctor, coming in uncredited to save A CHORUS LINE, PROOF, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (originally titled: SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH SHLOMO). WHOSE AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, AVENUE Q., AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ (additional dialogue), GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (talking Mamet out of the dance numbers), and THE ODD COUPLE (originally titled: TWO AND A HALF MEN).

An experimental work of his own played two nights in Boston and two nights in St. Louis. It was called the 2004 WORLD SERIES.

He has never seen a television show, watched a movie, or read any book not written by John Simon or Frank Rich.

17 comments:

glassblowerscat said...

Yep … sounds about right.

Maybe Two and a Half Men really should be a musical. I'd see it.

Bonnie said...

Throw in a cameo by Tovah Feldshuh in your personal history and you've got yourself a winner!

Paul Duca said...

Ken, if I may be almost serious for a moment..you have a worthy record of accomplishment. Don't get yourself into the mindset of Bernard Slade, who is so caught up in being the author of plays like SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR and ROMANTIC COMEDY, his Playbill bio denies the fact he also gave the world THE FLYING NUN and THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY. It's arrogance and snobbery--be proud of who you are. In fact, let Broadway know you were Beaver Cleaver on Ten-Q!
Remember...Stephen Sondheim wrote episodes of TOPPER.

Stephen Gallagher said...

I confess I'm always kind of irritated to read comedy schtick offered in lieu of actual biographical detail -- worry less about your written bio's effect on the critics and think more of its meaning to your audience, for whom your actual achievements carry enormous personal value.

You'd honestly ditch that killer resume for a Sondheim gag that anyone could make? I think you're just having some fun with us.

Dave Williams said...

You might want to add a comment disavowing your own play following producer-forced changes in development. Keep it vague so the critics can agree with you.

Mary Stella said...

Don't know how the Playbill readers or critics will react to your bio, but it made me laugh. *g*

Karan said...

You forgot to mention how you apprenticed under Bob Fosse, perfecting those famous jazz hands.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

You could always mention all the writers who left Broadway to come and work with you...

Ken Levine said...

Yes, this Playbill bio is a goof. For better or worse, this is what the program will really read (although I don't think it's as funny):

Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has been the head writer of MASH, producer of CHEERS, creative consultant of FRASIER, writer for THE SIMPSONS, and has co-created three of his own series.

Plays include UPFRONTS AND PERSONAL and CITY OF ANGLES. With David Isaacs he co-wrote the movie VOLUNTEERS starring Tom Hanks, plays. His first book, IT'S GONE, NO WAIT A MINUTE! was published by Villard in 1993.

Ken was also the play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and San Diego Padres. And he's directed FRASIER and EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND.

He has won one Emmy, two Writers Guild Awards, and has had Peabody and Humanitas recognition.

Vlad Tepes said...

The problem with this bio, of course, is that it sets the critics' expectations pretty high. So if they have any issue with the musical at all, it'll be worse since it's coming from someone with such an illustrious bio.

Vlad Tepes said...

Of course, my comment referred to the original "joke" bio. Ken, you posted the real one while I was typing.

DrBear said...

And don't forget to mention your appearances on all the Law & Order series :).

Tenspeed & Brownshoe said...

Ken:

I notice AfterMash is strangely absent.

And I would KILL for more stories regarding Mary Tyler Moore.

Dan Fiorella said...

I would change the credit for AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' to "Addition Apostrophes" but otherwise I think you can pull it off.

The Master said...

Please, it's so simple. Drop all the credits, real or make-believe, and just say "Despite being married and a father, Ken is certain he's really gay, and means to get around to trying it any day now."
Also, be aware that the words "Major League baseball announcer" will be more incomprehesible than Sanskrit to most theater folk, and I speak as a lifelong theater folk. You might just as well hit random keys as include any baseball-related credits. Saying you were a "play-by-play voice" will make you sound like you were a theater critic on radio for birds in Maryland, sailors in Washington, and monks in California. Ever seen a baseball-related credit on ANY Playbill bio, other than for a production of "Damn Yankees"?
Break a leg.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

and all his shoes have taps

Hayseed said...

I'm a NY playwright and a huge baseball fan. I am also in rehearsals for a festival called the 7th Inning Stretch -- seven ten-minute baseball plays. This year the other playwrights include Craig Wright, Eduardo Machado, and Karen Hartman. (http://www.milesquaretheatre.org/) What can I say? There are a few of us out here who are impressed with ALL your credits. (But I actually adore your fake one.)