Saturday, January 12, 2013

My PLAYBILL -- aren't you impressed?

When the musical I co-wrote was produced I was asked to submit my bio for the program. 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 whom 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). WHO'S 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 San Francisco and two nights in Detroit. It was called the 20012 WORLD SERIES.

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

28 comments:

Mike said...

So it was you that ruined Glengarry Glen Ross?
It's been very many years since I saw the film, but I can see it working as a musical. It may be those theatre origins. After all, if they can make a musical out of Les Miserables... There could be a whole sub-genre of miseri-cals: Glengarry Glen Ross, Death of a Salesman, The Grapes of Wrath, The 2012 Republican Manifesto...
(Note: There already is an opera of The Grapes of Wrath and there was a tragi-comedy made from The 2012 Republican Manifesto.)

Russell Walks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Russell Walks said...

My favorite bio line of all time?
Woody Allen's Side Effects: "The author's one regret in life is that he is not someone else."

scottmc said...

This post, and a recent tribute to Marvin Hamlisch, reminded me of the best Playbill bio story ever. Ken, you told the story of the screenwriter of SMILE. When the story was made into the Ashman/Hamlisch musical of the same name, he wrote in his bio that being paid twice for the same script was a life long dream.

Michael said...

Friday question: How much do writing or acting awards affect one's ability to get the next job or pay level? Or are they strictly an ego thing?

Ray Barrington said...

You could have noted that you are still studying Strasberg, without adding it's the pitcher for Washington.

Wayne said...

As impressive as that bio is, I'm more impressed by your bio in THE ME GENERATION BY ME, which I am reading on my Kindle.
The book chapters are the ideal size to enjoy on the Kindle.
Kudos and thanks.

MikeBo said...

Wow! Gwen Verdon's dog. What kind was it? And did it wear a little Yankees uniform?

Don K. said...

Throw in something about having a picture of George Kaufman or Moss Hart in your wallet or on your wall as a kid, or a picture of George Kaufman AND Moss Hart having dinner with Alexander Woollcott, and you're bullet proof.


Weirdly enough, I DO have a letter signed by Woollcott he sent to somebody in 1934.

benson said...

The 20012 World Series? So you're a visionary, too? Wow, you are talented.

Don K. said...

MikeBo-

That kid on your avatar isn't aiming for Gwen Verdon's dog, is he?

Bob said...

It's like we're twins.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Don K: Oh, my. A letter from Woollcott!

Ken: I believe you want "whom I met". Those New York critics are fiends for perfect grammar.

wg

Eric J said...

You successfully managed to find a path between ignoring the truth and using it to advantage without actually telling it. Are you running for Congress next?

Kirk said...

As far as I'm concerned, movies and TV are really aspects of the theater. You have actors, scripts, sets, and stage hands in all three. Also, an audience to please.

Cap'n Bob said...

The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd! Show business is my life.

Pete Grossman said...

You picked up Gwen Verdon's dog's poop? Oh the shit you have to deal with in show business.

D. McEwan said...

Love it. A musical number would have helped Glengarry Glen Ross. I saw it onstage with Joe Montagna and Peter Falk. Falk was awsome, but jeeze, what a relentless, foul-mouthed downer, with ultimately the same exact "message" as Death of a Salesman: "NEVER BECOME A SALESMAN!"

He spent his formative years building the sets for LES MISERABLES.

Wow. You built sets for a show that was not written yet. Impressive, or would be if the set for Les Miz were anything beyond a lot of stuff piled on a huge turntable.

I believe one can now get employment walking Carol Channing.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Wait a minute! That was the first draft of my memoir! all you omitted were the 7 or 9 or more marriages.

Breadbaker said...

Did Sunday in the Park with Shlomo bomb in New Haven?

The Mutt said...

I once submitted a resume that said I had played Harvey, Lefty, Godot, and Glen Ross. I got the gig.

Powerhouse Salter said...

Remember to submit a tweedy head shot of yourself holding an unlit pipe or a pair of reading glasses to your lower lip.

YEKIMI said...

Speaking of plays......finally saw "Les Miserables" [movie, not the play]. Wasn't as bad as I thought. Russell Crowe's voice didn't make my testicles implode so that was a plus. Didn't realize that most of the people in Paris had an English accent though. Must have come through on an early version of the Chunnel.

Christina Mrapplegate said...

You picked up Gwen Verdon's dog's poop?

The guy who REALLY had it rough when that dog was around was Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo.

VP81955 said...

It's been very many years since I saw the film, but I can see it working as a musical. It may be those theatre origins. After all, if they can make a musical out of Les Miserables...

I think at one time there were plans for a musical version of "Citizen Kane," though it probably would have ended up as one of those overwhelmingly bombastic Andrew Lloyd Webber-type things.

About the time it was announced, in the late '90s, someone at one of the early Web message boards wrote a "song" for a "Kane" musical called "I Think It Would Be Fun To Run A Newspaper." It was a comedic monologue (a la Rex Harrison in "My Fair Lady" or Robert Preston in "The Music Man"), and it was hilarious. I'm still mad at myself for not saving the lyrics.

Michael said...

One of the best biographical lines I ever saw was not in Playbill (although Michael Palin's work on the Spamalot Playbill was a classic) but in an author bio for a collection of columns by Russell Baker: "He has been dead for a number of years and has two cats."

D. McEwan said...

Ah, well if we're talking funny blurbs by Monty Pythons, here's a blurb John Cleese wrote for a book by Barry Humphries: "Dame Edna has written the finest, wittiest and most informative book I have ever been promised a complimentary copy of."

(Bit of a brag. Barry Humphries blurbed my first book, so I have one-degree of blurb-seperation from Cleese's blurbing. And Ken blurbed my new book, which puts him on the same page with Barry's blurb, so Ken has half a degree of blurb-seperation from John Cleese, and no seperation from Barry Humphries.)

Storm said...

You had me at "Shlomo"; that name is comedy GOLD!

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm