PERSONAL: Born in NY; married; children: one daughter.
ADDRESSES: Home—Cold Spring, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Holtzbrinck Publishers, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and director. Director of television films, including The Love Doctor, MTV.
AWARDS, HONORS: Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, and American Theatre Critics Association Award, both for Jungle Rot.
Jungle Rot (play; produced in Chicago, IL, 2004), Dramatists Play Service (New York, NY), 1997.
Jerusalem (two-act play), produced in Cleveland, OH, 2001.
The Bones (novel), Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2005.
Author of other plays, including Girls in Movies, Partners in Crime, and Red Memories. Work appears in anthologies, including The Best American Plays of 1995–1996. Author of screenplay Who's the Man?, and of teleplay The Love Doctor, MTV Networks.
WORK IN PROGRESS: An adaptation of Girls in Movies for television; a screenplay for Propaganda Films; a screen adaptation of The Bones for Columbia Pictures; a novel about a middle-class man who loses his job and must resort to disreputable means to support his family.
SIDELIGHTS: Seth Greenland has spent more than two decades writing scripts for movies and television, authoring plays, and, in 2005, penning a novel portraying the Hollywood scene. In his play Jungle Rot, Greenland presents a black comedy involving an assassination plot targeting the prime minister of the Congo and an American embassy worker/CIA agent named John Stillman. The hapless Stillman is not only dealing with orders to help another agent assassinate the prime minister, but he also is coping with his dissatisfied and bitter wife, who is unhappy about her husband's lack of ambition. Thrown into the mix are a Cleveland auto-parts salesman and his wife, who have come to the Congo to search for their daughter and eventually become involved in the assassination attempt. The plan ultimately goes awry when Stillman decides against completing the mission and reveals the plot in front of a group of partygoers, including the prime minister himself.
Matthew Jaster, writing for the Columbia Chronicle Online, noted, "Historically, mixing politics and paranoia can lead to a vast array of opinions. Some might find the satire very satisfying, while others might understand the jokes, but fail to see the humor. Seth Greenland's play Jungle Rot not only succeeds at bringing these elements together, but also manages to create a memorable cast of characters along the way."
Greenland's two-act play Jerusalem focuses on psychiatrist Will Solomon, who, after watching one of his patients commit suicide, suffers a crisis of self-doubt. The play then follows the escapades of Solomon's dysfunctional inlaws, as the psychiatrist and his wife, Meg, go on a trip to visit them. Eventually the couple is joined by Meg's sister and her husband on a trip to Jerusalem as Solomon seeks to learn more about his Jewish heritage. Chris Jones, writing in Variety, commented that the "splendid Jerusalem should be this journeyman scribe's breakthrough play." Jones went on to remark that Jerusalem is "sufficiently wry and quirky to qualify as an accessible and commercial comedy, yet it also conveys enough thematic heft to feel like a theatrical evening of substance."
For his first novel, The Bones, Greenland draws on his vast experience writing for film and television and working with comedians. The story focuses on Frank Bones, a relatively successful comedian who desperately wants his own television series, which he tentatively calls My Life and High Times. Like a true Hollywood megalomaniac, Bones wants the television show to focus on him and him alone. When Bones asks television comedy writer Lloyd Melnick to help him, Melnick turns him down. Bones retaliates by driving a Humvee into Melnick's living room and then heads for the Mexican border chased by the police. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that, despite the novel's hectic pace, Greenland "slows down enough along the way to expound intelligently on topics ranging from self-knowledge to 'the anxiety of affluence.'" In a review in Booklist, Joanne Wilkinson observed that the author "takes readers on an entertaining, behind-the-scenes tour of sitcoms and their socially maladroit, dyspeptic creators."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2005, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Bones, p. 941.
Entertainment Weekly, March 4, 2005, Jennifer Reese, review of The Bones, p. 78.
Hollywood Reporter, March 16, 2005, Liza Foreman, "Columbia Collects Bones for Mamet," p. 4.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2005, review of The Bones, p. 72.
Library Journal, February 15, 2005, Bob Lunn, review of The Bones, p. 116.
Publishers Weekly, January 31, 2005, review of The Bones, p. 49.
School Library Journal, April, 2005, Matthew L. Moffett, review of The Bones, p. 161.
Variety, April 26, 1993, Leonard Klady, review of Who's the Man?, p. 69; January 30, 1995, Chris Jones, review of Jungle Rot, p. 58; April 30, 2001, Chris Jones, review of Jerusalem p. 38.
Washington Post Book World, March 27, 2005, Michael Schaub, review of The Bones, p. 6.
Columbia Chronicle Online, http://www.ccchronicle.com/ (June 27, 2005), Matthew Jaster, review of Jungle Rot.
Doollee.com, http://www.doollee.com/ (June 27, 2005).
Kennedy Center Web site, http://www.kennedy-center.org/ (June 27, 2005), brief profile of Seth Greenland.
WordnBass.com, http://www.wordnbass.com/ (June 27, 2005), interview with Greenland.