Draper, Polly 1956-
DRAPER, Polly 1956-
PERSONAL: Born June 15, 1956, in Gary, IN (some sources cite Palo Alto, CA); daughter of William (head of United Nations development program) and Phyllis (a Peace Corps administrator) Draper; married Kevin Wade (a playwright and screenwriter), 1983 (divorced, 1990); married Michael Wolff (a musician); children: (second marriage) Nathaniel Marvin, Alexander Draper.
ADDRESSES: Agent—The Gersh Agency Inc., 232 North Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
CAREER: Actress, producer, and screenwriter. Actress in television series, including (as Ellyn Warren) thirtysomething, American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), 1987-92; (as Elaine Hoffman) Gideon's Crossing, ABC, 2000-01; and (as Winnie Robin) Ryan's Hope, ABC. Actress in television movies, including (as Ella Sabin) Broken Promises: Taking Emily Back, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 1993; (as Adrian Townsend) Danielle Steele's "Heartbeat" National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1993; (as Pamela Sutton) The Innocent (also known as Silent Witness), NBC, 1994; and (as Claire Gardner) LaVyrle Spencer's "Home Song", CBS, 1996. Played Bernadette Pascoe in television pilot Adams Apple, CBS, 1986. Guest star on television programs, including Not Necessarily the News, Tales from the Darkside, The Arsenio Hall Show, The Larry Sanders Show, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Actress in films, including (as Aileen Jones) Seven Minutes in Heaven, Warner Bros., 1986; (as Suzy Duncan) Making Mr. Right, Orion, 1987; (as Pat) The Pick-up Artist, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1987; (as Olivia Smith) A Million to Juan (also known as A Million to One), Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1994; (as Kate Easton) Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain, Universal, 1995; (as Evelyn Hayes) Schemes, Bristol Entertainment, 1995; (as Donna Evans) Always Say Goodbye, 1996; Hudson River Blues (also known as Family Blues), Romance Classics, 1997; (as Laura) The Tic Code, Avalanche Releasing, 1998; (as Natalie Clemente) Dinner Rush, Access Motion Picture Group, 2000; (as Paula) Second Best, 2004; (as Rose Livien) Shooting Livien; and as Dr. Weiss) A Perfect Fit. Actress in stage productions, including Buried Child, Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1978; As You Like It, Yale Repertory Theatre, 1979; Measure for Measure, Yale Repertory Theatre, 1979; (as Jean) Split, Second Stage Theatre, New York, 1980; (as Caroline Lou Bingham) The Stitch in Time, American National Theatre and Academy, 1980-81; (as Gertrude Cayce) The Freak, New York, NY, 1981; (as Meg) The Actor's Nightmare and (as Diane Symonds) Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You (double-bill), New York, NY, 1981-82; (as Cheryl) Hooters, New York, NY, 1982; (as Marlene) Top Girls, New York Shakespeare Festival, 1983; Five of Us, New York, NY, 1983; (as Blake Upton) Mr. and Mrs., New York, NY, 1984; (as Lucy) "Want Ad," (as Danny/Heather/Lois) Love as We Know It, New York, NY, 1985; (as Fiona) The Ground Zero Club, Young Playwrights Festival, 1985; (as Linda Seward) Rum and Coke, New York Shakespeare Festival, 1986; Insignificance, New York, NY, 1986; Love Letters, Los Angeles, CA, 1990; (as Yvette) Crazy He Calls Me, New York, NY, 1992; Four Dogs and a Bone, New York, NY, 1993; Closer, Broadway, 1999; (as Dana Sue Kay) Imagining Brad, New York, NY, 1999; (as Ginger) Trudy Blue, New York, NY, 1999; Blur, off-Broadway, 2001; Thorn Hill, New York, NY; Split, New York, NY; and Actors and Actresses, New York, NY. Reader of books on tape, including The Family Orchard, 2001.
AWARDS, HONORS: Best Picture, and Crystal Bear awards, Berlin Film Festival, Best Actress, Best Picture, and Grand Jury Prize, Giffoni Festival (Italy), Best Picture/Reel-to-Reel Award, Vancouver Film Festival, and Audience Award, Hamptons International Film Festival, all for The Tic Code.
(And producer) The Tic Code (screenplay), 1998.
SIDELIGHTS: Actress Polly Draper, best known for her role as Ellyn on the television series thirtysomething, is also the author of the screenplay for the film The Tic Code. The film centers on three people: Miles, a twelve-year-old, white piano prodigy; his single mother, Laura (played by Draper); and Tyrone (played by Gregory Hines), an African-American jazz saxophonist who takes Miles under his wing. Miles has Tourette's syndrome, a neurological condition that causes him to tic uncontrollably when he is under stress. Tyrone also has Tourette's, but he has not come to terms with his condition as well as Miles has.
In several ways, this film was inspired by Draper's husband, Michael Wolff, a jazz pianist who was formerly the leader of the band on the Arsenio Hall Show. Wolff prodded Draper to write her own scripts after Draper's suggestion for an alternate ending for a film for which Wolff was writing the score was used by the director, without crediting her. "I was actually, 'Oh my God, they used my ending!, '" Draper told Pam Grady of Reel.com, "but [Wolff] was mad and said, 'You have been writing for other people, why don't you write your own thing?'" (Draper had also re-written scenes featuring her character on thirtysomething.)
Draper's first impulse was to write something that involved a strong, realistic relationship between a mother and a son, since she was frustrated by the many "corny" conversations between mothers and sons in the scripts that she was given. But when Draper thought about using Tourette's as a complicating factor in her screenplay, Wolff protested. Wolff also suffers from the syndrome, although he admits that before he met Draper he was largely in denial about it. (A fair number of jazz musicians have Tourette's; there has been some speculation that the lack of inhibition that is a major component of Tourette's helps musicians with the freeflowing, uninhibited, improvised style that is jazz.) But, shortly afterwards, when Wolff found out that one of his young cousins had just been diagnosed with the disease, he relented. Wolff eventually became co-producer of the film and wrote the score for it, as well as counseling the actors who played Miles and Tyrone about how to fake Tourette's symptoms for the camera.
Bringing The Tic Code to the big screen was a seven-year odyssey, since no one wanted to put up the money for the film. Various studio executives told Draper that her screenplay was not commercially viable: that one couldn't make a movie with a child in a leading role if the film wasn't geared for children, that the interracial romance that develops between Laura and Tyrone would kill overseas box-office receipts, that Tourette's and jazz were not mainstream enough. Many studios offered to finance the film if Draper would change one or more of these elements, but she was adamant. "All those elements had to be present," Draper told Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times, "because they all go together to make up the whole story."
When the film finally had its theatrical release, it was generally well received by critics. Far from being the "disease-of-the-week" film that many people had been expecting, The Tic Code is "a very human work of fiction," Ryan James wrote in the Bergen County, New Jersey Record. Heckman praised Draper's creation of "a strong female character within an unusual family grouping," while National Review critic John Simon noted that "Draper's writing is lively, blessedly unmawkish, and with a good command of the jazz lingo."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Back Stage, November 20, 1981, Victor Gluck, review of Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, p. 50; November 19, 1982, Victor Gluck, review of Hooters, p. 102; December 10, 1999, Victor Gluck, review of Trudy Blue, p. 48; August 18, 2000, Leslie Blake, interview with Draper and Michael Wolff, p. 51.
Back Stage West, August 10, 2000, Angela Phipps Towle, review of The Tic Code, p. 9.
Boston Herald, August 30, 2000, Stephen Shaefer, interview with Draper, p. 39; September 1, 2000, James Verniere, review of The Tic Code, p. 13.
Houston Chronicle, August 3, 2000, Louis B. Parks, review of The Tic Code, p. 23.
Los Angeles Times, August 5, 2000, Don Heckman, interview with Draper, p. F1.
National Review, September 11, 2000, John Simon, review of The Tic Code, p. 64.
New Leader, February 10, 1992, Stefan Kanfer, review of Crazy He Calls Me, p. 23.
New Republic, December 9, 1981, Robert Brustein, review of Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, pp. 21-23; March 3, 1986, Robert Brustein, review of Rum and Coke, pp. 24-26.
Newsweek, November 9, 1981, Jack Kroll, review of Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, p. 101.
New York, May 28, 1984, John Simon, review of Mr. and Mrs., p. 102; February 10, 1992, John Simon, review of Crazy He Calls Me, p. 87; November 15, 1993, John Simon, review of Four Dogs and a Bone, p. 94; May 31, 1999, John Simon, review of Imagining Brad, pp. 99-100.
New Yorker, November 2, 1981, Edith Oliver, review of Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, p. 66; November 1, 1982, Edith Oliver, review of Hooters, pp. 135-136; February 10, 1986, Edith Oliver, review of Rum and Coke, pp. 100-101; November 15, 1993, Edith Oliver, review of Four Dogs and a Bone, p. 113.
New York Times, April 7, 1980, Mel Gussow, review of Split, p. C12; February 26, 1981, Mel Gussow, review of The Freak, p. 18; October 21, 1982, Frank Rich, review of Hooters, p. 22; December 30, 1983, Mel Gussow, review of Five of Us, p. C6; May 24, 1984, Frank Rich, review of Mr. and Mrs., p. C24; April 12, 1985, Frank Rich, review of The Ground Zero Club, p. C3; March 4, 1986, Samuel G. Freedman, review of Rum and Coke, p. C13; August 22, 1986, Stephen Holden, review of Adams Apple, p. A22; October 27, 1986, Mel Gussow, review of Insignificance, p. C20; January 28, 1992, Frank Rich, review of Crazy He Calls Me, p. C11; February 2, 1992, David Richards, review of Crazy He Calls Me, p. H5; November 1, 1993, Frank Rich, review of Four Dogs and a Bone, p. C13; November 12, 1995, Peter M. Nichols, review of Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain, p. H32; May 22, 1999, Ben Brantley, review of Imagining Brad, p. B9; July 2, 1999, Peter Marks, "Out of the Box: Familiar Faces Glisten above the Footlights," p. E1; December 3, 1999, Anita Gates, review of Trudy Blue, p. E3; July 30, 2000, Marsha Norman, review of The Tic Code, p. AR11; August 4, 2000, Stephen Holden, review of The Tic Code, p. E28.
People, May 8, 1989, Susan Schindehette, "Single Again, thirtysomething's Polly Draper Brushes up on Becoming a Sexy Working Girl," pp. 157-159; February 8, 1993, David Hiltbrand, review of Danielle Steel's "Heartbeat, " p. 15; November 20, 1995, Ralph Novak, review of Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, January 1, 2001, review of The Family Orchard (audiobook), 2001.
Record (Bergen County, NJ), August 4, 2000, Ryan Jones, review of The Tic Code, p. 6.
Redbook, October, 1990, Kathy Henderson, interview with Draper, pp. 79-83.
TV Guide, April 20, 1991, Elaine Warren, "Here Comes the Bride: thirtysomething's Ellyn Finally Gets Married—Just after Actress Polly Draper Gets a Divorce," pp. 8-9; March 27, 1999, Stef McDonald, review of The Tic Code, p. 6.
US Weekly, August 21, 2000, J. D. Heyman, review of The Tic Code, p. 36.
Variety, May 23, 1984, review of Mr. and Mrs., p. 86; February 5, 1986, review of Rum and Coke, p. 158; November 12, 1986, review of Insignificance, p. 89; October 7, 1987, review of thirtysomething, p. 68; February 3, 1992, Jeremy Gerard, review of Crazy He Calls Me, p. 84; February 8, 1993, Rick Marin, review of Danielle Steel's "Heartbeat, " p. 77; November 8, 1993, Jeremy Gerard, review of Four Dogs and a Bone, p. 26; September 19, 1994, Alan Rich, review of The Innocent, p. 52; October 27, 1997, Leonard Klady, review of Always Say Goodbye, p. 45; December 22, 1997, Dennis Harvey, review of Hudson River Blues, p. 64; March 22, 1999, Ken Eisner, review of The Tic Code, p. 41; May 24, 1999, Charles McNulty, review of Imagining Brad, p. 78; December 6, 1999, Charles Isherwood, review of Trudy Blue, p. 94.
Wall Street Journal, April 15, 1985, Laurie Winer, review of The Ground Zero Club, p. 26; October 12, 1987, Robert Goldberg, review of thirtysomething, p. 20; November 29, 1993, Melanie Kirkpatrick, review of Four Dogs and a Bone, p. A12; December 10, 1999, Debra Jo Immergut, review of Trudy Blue, p. W9; May 23, 2001, Amy Gamerman, review of Blur, p. A24.
First Look Pictures Web site, http://www.flp.com/ (May 30, 2003), "Polly Draper: 'Laura.'"
Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (March 1, 2004), "Polly Draper."
PopMatters.com, http://www.popmatters.com/ (May 30, 2003), Cynthia Fuchs, review of The Tic Code.
Reel.com, http://www.reel.com/ (May 30, 2003), Pam Grady, interview with Draper and Michael Wolff.
TheaterMania.com, http://ibs.theatermania.com/ (May 30, 2003), Barbara and Scott Siegel, interview with Draper.*