American Beauty Writer
"Beauty is in the strangest places; a piece of garbage floating in the wind. And that beauty exists in America. It exists everywhere. You have to develop an eye for it and be able to see it." Alan Ball
Oscar-winning screenwriter, director, and producer Alan Ball was highly praised for writing the screenplay for the acclaimed film “American Beauty” (1999) and for creating the HBO original drama series “Six Feet Under” (2001-2005). He recently drew controversy with his latest film, "Towelhead" (2007), whose title received protests from an Islamic civil rights advocacy group and had to be changed into "Nothing is Private." Ball's next project is "True Blood," a supernatural drama series starring Anna Paquin that is based on the "Southern Vampire Mysteries" books by Charlaine Harris. It will premiere on September 7, 2008, on the HBO network as well as The Movie Network in Canada.
“I think we have become very adept at functioning in this fast-paced, media-driven culture. I have this persona that I can just fall back into when I go to meetings or stuff like that, but not enough of our experience, I think, is real.” Alan Ball
Ball is outspokenly gay and has often included gay issues or characters in his work, such as character David Fisher in "Six Feet Under" (2001).
“The level of celebrity worship in our society, I think, is verging on the pathological.” Alan Ball
Childhood and Family:
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1957, Alan E. Ball grew up in Marietta, Georgia. He has a sister named Mary Ann Ball, who was killed on her 22nd birthday when she turned onto a blind curve and hit an oncoming car. Young Alan, who was 13 at the time, was with her in the passenger seat.
“Life tests us in a lot of ways and when we look back at the painful parts of our lives, yeah, they were painful, but they forced us to grow. The good times don't necessarily force us to grow.” Alan Ball
Ball studied theater at Florida State University, in Tallahassee, Florida, but dropped out to move to New York City.
Six Feet Under
In 1991, Alan wrote the play "The M Word," which premiered at the Lucille Ball Festival. In 1993, his play about bridesmaids getting ready for a wedding in Knoxville, Tennessee, "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress," debuted at New York City’s Manhattan Class Company. Following the debut of his plays, Ball moved to Los Angeles in 1994 to join the writing staff of the ABC sitcom starring Brett Butler, "Grace Under Fire," which was produced under the Carsey-Werner banner. He followed it up with as a producer, story editor, and writer for the CBS sitcom "Cybill," which was also produced under Carsey-Werner.
“You just come in, you punch in the clock, you do your factory work and then you leave. On those shows, I either had to do that or I would just develop a drug habit or have a heart attack.” Alan (on his early career working on situation comedies)
In 1999, Ball created, executive produced and wrote episodes of "Oh Grow Up," an ABC sitcom based on his personal experiences as a gay man living with heterosexual male roommates in Brooklyn, New York. He also scored his biggest break to date when he made his feature film debut as a screenwriter with "American Beauty" (he also co-produced), which garnered rave reviews and won him a Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen at the Academy Awards.
“It was the ultimate movie experience, the ultimate screen-writing experience.”Alan Ball (on working on "American Beauty")
He also scooped up the Best Screenplay - Motion Picture Award at the Golden Globes, Best Screenplay, Original, from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Screenwriter of the Year from the London Critics Circle Film, Best Screenplay, Original from the Southeastern Film Critics Association, and Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen from the Writers Guild of America.
Following his Oscar win, Ball created "Six Feet Under," the HBO series about a dysfunctional family that operates a funeral home. He also co-produced the show with Alan Poul, Robert Greenblatt, and David Janollari. The show, which originally aired from 2001 to 2005, also received critical acclaim, winning him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series in 2002. It also earned him PGA's Television Producer of the Year Award in Episodic – Drama and Directors Guild of America's Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series' – Night.
“I wasn't unhappy. I was emotional. It was sad. So yes, it will be hard to say goodbye to them because I've spent five years with these characters. They're like family to me. It's like you have five children, eight, nine children and they're all going off to college at the same time.” Alan Ball (about the end of "Six Feet Under")
Ball's signed a deal with HBO and worked on the project "True Blood," a supernatural drama series starring Anna Paquin and based on the "Southern Vampire Mysteries" books by Charlaine Harris. The show, which is produced by HBO in association with Ball's own production company, Your Face Goes Here Entertainment, will premiere on September 7, 2008. It will air on the same day in Canada on The Movie Network.
Meanwhile, Ball drew controversy with his latest film, "Towelhead" (2007), an adaptation of Alicia Erian's novel of the same name that he produced and directed. The film's title received protests from an Islamic civil rights advocacy group because "the word is commonly used in a derogatory manner against people of the Muslim faith or Arab origin." The film, which is about the life of a 13-year-old Lebanese-American girl in the early '90s, made its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on September 8, 2007, under the name "Nothing is Private."
“I love to direct! I get really jazzed by directing, but directing is not the same kind of personal expression, the same kind of personal intimate expression that writing is.” Alan Ball
Ball, who was one of the founders of Alarm Dog Rep, also wrote, directed and acted in such plays as "Made For a Woman," "Bachelor Holiday," "The Amazing Adventures of Tense Guy," "Your Mother's Butt," "Power Lunch," and "The Two Mrs. Trumps."
“Life isn't what happens to you in 20 years. This moment, right now, is your life.” Alan Ball
PGA: Television Producer of the Year Award in Episodic - Drama, "Six Feet Under," 2004
Emmy: Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, "Six Feet Under," 2002
Directors Guild of America: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series' - Night, "Six Feet Under," 2002
Academy Award: Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, "American Beauty," 2000
Golden Globe: Best Screenplay - Motion Picture, "American Beauty,"
Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Screenplay, Original, "American Beauty," 2000
London Critics Circle Film: Screenwriter of the Year, "American Beauty," 2000
Southeastern Film Critics Association: Best Screenplay, Original, "American Beauty," 2000
Writers Guild of America: Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, "American Beauty," 2000