Zweibel, Alan 1950–
Zweibel, Alan 1950–
PERSONAL: Born May 20, 1950, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Julius and Shirley (Bram) Zweibel; married; wife's name, Robin; children: Adam, Lindsay, Sari.
ADDRESSES: Office—227 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Agent—c/o David Lonner, Endeavor Talent Agency, 9701 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer and film and television producer.
Producer of television and films, including It's Garry Shandling's Show (series), Showtime, 1986; The Boys (series), 1989; Good Sports (series), CBS, 1991; North (film), New Line Cinema, 1994; The Story of Us (film), Castle Rock Entertainment, 1999; and Curb Your Enthusiasm (series), HBO, 2000. Actor in television and films, including Saturday Night Live (series), NBC, 1979–80; North (film), New Line Cinema, 1994; and The Story of Us (film), Castle Rock Entertainment, 1999. Director of television series It's Garry Shandling's Show, Showtime, 1986.
MEMBER: Writers Guild of America, Directors Guild of America, Dramatists Guild.
AWARDS, HONORS: Emmy Award, individual—outstanding writing in a comedy, variety, or music series or special, 1976, for NBC's Saturday Night Live, individual—outstanding writing in a variety or music program, 1977, for NBC's Saturday Night Live, and 1978, for The Paul Simon Special; six CableACE awards; three Writers Guild Awards.
Saturday Night Live (series), National Broadcasting Co. (NBC), 1975–80
The Paul Simon Special, NBC, 1977.
Beach Boys Special, NBC, 1978.
Gilda Live, NBC, 1980.
Steve Martin's Best Show Ever, NBC, 1981.
The Best of John Belushi, NBC, 1985.
Bigshots in America (series), NBC, 1985.
The Best of Dan Aykroyd, NBC, 1986.
(With Garry Shandling; and creator and producer) It's Garry Shandling's Show (series), Showtime, 1986–90.
The Boys (series), Showtime, 1989.
Good Sports (series), CBS, 1991.
(And executive producer) The Please Watch the Jon Lovitz Special, Fox, 1991.
(And executive producer) I Am Your Child (movie), ABC, 1997.
(With Dan Aykroyd and Tom Mankiewicz) Dragnet, Universal, 1987.
(With Andrew Scheinman; and producer) North (based on his novel of the same title), Columbia, 1994.
(With Jessie Nelson; and producer) The Story of Us, Universal, 1999.
(With Gilda Radner) Roseanne Roseannadanna's "Hey, Get Back to Work!" Book (humor), Long Shadow Books/Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1983.
North (novel), Villard Books (New York, NY), 1984.
Between Cars (play; part of "Marathon '85"), produced at Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York City, 1985.
Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner, A Sort of Love Story (memoir), Villard Books (New York, NY), 1994.
The Other Shulman (novel), Villard Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Our Tree Named Steve, Putnam (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, Mad Magazine, and The New Yorker. Also contributor to 700 Sundays, a solo show by Billy Crystal.
ADAPTATIONS: Bunny Bunny was adapted for the stage and produced at the Walter Kerr Theatre, 1994, and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York City, 1997.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Adapting Bunny Bunny into a feature film for Warner Bros.
SIDELIGHTS: Alan Zweibel is an accomplished writer who has earned three Emmy Awards for his efforts. Zweibel began his career as a writer for the hit television show Saturday Night Live. From there he moved on to write for other television series and specials, offBroadway plays, and screenplays. Zweibel's 1984 book North, the story of a nine-year-old boy who, feeling ignored by his workaholic parents, sets out to find a new set of parents who will truly appreciate him, was turned into a feature movie. The television series Zweibel created in 1986, It's Garry Shandling's Show, was a ratings smash and the show earned many awards. But it was Zweibel's relationship with actress Gilda Radner that helped make him a success.
Zweibel met Radner when Saturday Night Live was first beginning rehearsals in July of 1975. Radner had an idea about a comedy sketch involving a parakeet with which she asked Zweibel to help her. Zweibel was so nervous that when asked by producer Lorne Michaels to stand up and announce his plans for the show, Zweibel was unable to speak. Radner stood up and presented the parakeet sketch as Zweibel's own work and also said that Zweibel had many more ideas that the two of them would be working on together. Radner's unselfish actions were the beginnings of a very close friendship, a friendship that would last through drug abuse, affairs, spouses, and children.
Zweibel's 1994 book Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner, A Sort of Love Story was written as a way for Zweibel to achieve some sort of catharsis and closure after the death of Radner in 1991 from ovarian cancer. Not intending to publish anything, Zweibel sat down and recounted the fifteen-year friendship, from the first days at Saturday Night Live to the eulogy he delivered at Radner's funeral. After he was through writing his memoir, all of his friends, Gilda's husband Gene Wilder, Radner's family, and Zweibel's wife encouraged him to publish the book. Zweibel relented with the promise that all proceeds would go to Gilda's Club, a cancer support group set up in Radner's name.
Bunny Bunny was first produced on the stage in 1994 on Broadway and starred Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Zweibel and Radner. It was a sold-out show with all proceeds once again going to Gilda's Club. The production was later moved to the Lucille Lortel Theatre for a production there with Bruno Kirby and Paula Cale in the starring roles. The title "Bunny Bunny" comes from a superstition that Radner had in childhood and carried with her into adulthood. Radner thought that if a person recited the words "bunny bunny" on the first day of every month, it would ward off evil and bring good luck. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly praised the book as a "simple and sensitive memoir."
In April of 2005, Zweibel published Our Tree Named Steve, his first children's book. Framed as a letter from a father to his children, Our Tree Named Steve explains how the family-named tree, a landmark of their front yard for most of their lives, was uprooted in a storm. The poignant tale first asks the readers to remember the many roles that Steve played in their lives; hammock holder, shade provider, and campout spot, to name a few. After reflecting on pleasant memories, the children of the family must learn to deal with the loss of Steve. School Library Journal contributor Marianne Sacardi described Our Tree Named Steve as "a bittersweet and genuinely sad slice of life," while a Publishers Weekly contributor pointed out that "Zweibel fills his epistolary text with heartfelt emotion without overdoing it." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews found the book to be "a faultless piece of bibliotherapy for children working through loss."
Zweibel's first foray into adult fiction was published in July of 2005. In The Other Shulman, the title character runs the New York City Marathon as the preceding events that led him there are relayed through flashbacks. When he finds himself with a failing marriage, a struggling business, and a lot of extra weight, T.O. Shulman is convinced that running the marathon will be the first step toward fixing all of his problems. But while training for the marathon, he runs into another Shulman, a more successful, better-looking Shulman, whom T.O. Shulman struggles to beat. A Kirkus Reviews contributor described the book as a "comic novel about a lovable loser." Many critics commented on the humorous aspects of Shulman's story. According to Jennifer Baker of Booklist, the book "blends the woebegone humor of Woody Allen with the whiplash sarcasm of Jerry Seinfeld." A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that the book "tells a winning tale."
When asked by L.P. Ferrante, in an interview with Writer's Digest, what advice he would offer somebody trying to start a career writing for television, Zweibel replied: "Write. Put on paper a couple of your own pilots. A smart producer will want to look … and see what this writer can do if he's given free reign." Zweibel also had this comment on the business of writing for television: "I don't care who you are, how successful you are, it never gets any easier."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Back Stage, April 4, 1997, David Sheward, review of Bunny Bunny (theater production), p. 72.
Booklist, July, 1994, Ilene Cooper, review of Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner, A Sort of Love Story, p. 191; June 1, 2005, Jennifer Baker, review of The Other Shulman, p. 1763.
Entertainment Weekly, July 15, 1994, Mark Harris, review of North, p. 55.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2005, review of Our Tree Named Steve, p. 361; May 1, 2005, review of The Other Shulman, p. 509.
New York, June 10, 1985, John Simon, review of Marathon '85, p. 93.
Publishers Weekly, August 26, 1983, Sally A. Lodge, review of Roseanne Roseannadanna's "Hey, Get Back to Work!" Book, p. 380; July 4, 1994, review of Bunny Bunny, p. 48; April 18, 2005, review of Our Tree Named Steve, p. 62; May 16, 2005, review of The Other Shulman, p. 35.
School Library Journal, April, 2005, Marianne Sacardi, review of Our Tree Named Steve, p. 117.
Time, January 14, 1991, Richard Zoglin, review of Good Sports, p. 60; October 25, 1999, Richard Corliss, review of The Story of Us, p. 129.
Variety, December 2, 1981, "Steve Martin's Best Show Ever," p. 82; June 26, 1985, "Bigshots in America," p. 64; March 23, 1988, "It's Garry Shandling's Show," p. 110; July 26-August 1, 1989, review of The Boys, p. 50; November 15, 1989, "It's Garry Shandling's Show," p. 44; January 14, 1991, review of Good Sports, p. 116; July 18, 1994, Leonard Klady, review of North, p. 38.
Writer's Digest, July, 1995, L.P. Ferrante, "The 'Absolute Worst Comic,' But a Pretty Fair Writer" (interview), p. 6; December 6, 2004, David Rooney, review of 700 Sundays, p. 6.