Archive for the ‘Alan Ball’ Category

Alan Ball and Sue Naegle on America in Primetime

Posted by Lynnpd On November - 19 - 2011

Alan Ball and HBO’s President Sue Naegle are featured in the new PBS Series, America in Prime Time.

Man of the House - Alan Ball gives commentary on Man of the House which showcases the evolution of men from the kings of their castles in classic family sitcoms to more intricate, conflicted figures in modern shows.

Watch Man of the House on PBS. See more from AMERICA IN PRIMETIME.


The Misfit (Alan Ball and HBO’s President, Sue Neagle’s segment starts at chapter 8 and 9). The Misfit celebrates the unique characters who defied comic stereotypes and societal expectations to reflect the diverse personalities of America

Watch The Misfit on PBS. See more from AMERICA IN PRIMETIME.


Follow Your Bliss (And Meet Alan Ball)

Posted by Shadaliza On November - 10 - 2011

Alice Carbone is an Italian novelist and screenwriter based in Los Angeles recently had a chance to interview Alan Ball and below is a portion of that interview with the creator of our favorite show, True Blood.

When it comes to writing, among the many authors that I love, there’s always been a special one I wanted to know and work with: his name is Alan Ball.

Last June, my dreaming big and my urge to write in order to get through life (or through the end of the day) brought me to the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, where Mr. Ball was promoting the fourth season of True Blood.

It was my chance to shine, and with this very unusual blog I want to honor and remember that day in a very simple way: by sharing each and every single word of those 20 minutes of hope, admiration and professional growth.

If you are familiar with my writing, you know I usually turn my articles into stories, but I wanted to make an exception this time, because the interview was so intense that I didn’t want to take away the spotlight to the main character and to his honest and very articulated thoughts. The recipe is very simple: easy to read, no poetic cream cheese frosting, but with the cherry on top:

Alice Carbone – Ok Alan, I need to tell you this. In the last episode we saw Tommy turning into an alligator; I really thought you would make him eat his parents. Have you ever thought about it? Because he had to make them disappear…
Alan Ball – Ahahahahahahahah!!! I never thought about that, it never occurred to us…we just thought it would be fun to see Tommy become an alligator, but….WOW….you should come work with me as a writer!

And in the luxury of the Four Seasons suite, let’s get started with much more than blood and vampires…because we’re about to awaken primal instincts, religion and mythology, sex and other (not so) secret human fears:

Alice Carbone – In one of your old interviews you talked about the ‘fetishization of the victimization’, and I also know that, as it is for myself, this is a personal issue for you too. How did you embody this concept in True Blood and in which way did it affect your life?
Alan Ball – I think the concept is part of who I am, because in my life I always felt I was a victim, I truly believed I was a victim. In True Blood, under the vampire surface, a lot of people are victimized, like Tara, who is finally taking control of herself.

Alice Carbone – What did you mean by fetishization? Was it to explain how, from a victim position, we actually get something out of it, without actually being aware of what that is?
Alan Ball – Yes, that’s definitely the personal fetishization of it, and it’s a very deep concept, but I also wanted to convey something different, and my movie Towelhead is the perfect example: such a story is usually told in a strict black or white-cartoonish way, but what I loved about the original novel is that the woman character is a victim indeed, involved with a very powerful and very bad man that drags her deep into his immoral decisions, but she is still curious; she is still able to discover pleasure, without that severe form of self-judgment that oppresses our society. I think that, especially here in America, people really like to play the victim – a woman gets raped, just to make an extreme example – and she is blamed for her provocative style. To me, this is just a rationalization for brutalization; the result of having grown up with the American media, that created this sort of fetishization of victimization. Think about it: how many women are raped every day? In how many movies men with a dramatic or damaged environment at home just rape or kill as an excuse to their pain?

Alice Carbone – And we’ve seen a twist in this sexual attitude in the new season of True Blood with Jason, who is raped by several women. It’s very unusual to see a man in that position, especially if he is known as the playboy-kind-of-guy…
Alan Ball – Of course it’s unusual, because society wants to victimize women, and wants to keep women under control, so that men keep having all the power.

Alice Carbone – Is it why, in this season, you went back in time to the Spanish Inquisition and to the extermination of witches? It’s an interesting historical connection…
Alan Ball – Absolutely, it’s all about purging powerful free thinking women; it’s history.

Alice Carbone – When people ask me why I love True Blood so much, I try to explain that it’s actually not about vampires, but a metaphor for the our world instead; the V element is genius. Did you see this metaphor direction in the original book, or was it your own personal way of making this show unique?
Alan Ball – Well, in the first book we have this scene when two humans are trying to drain Bill, since vampire blood is a drug on the black market. But what I like about True Blood is that it becomes a metaphor for our most primal impulses. I am talking about the idea according to what the things we fear the most are those we secretly desire – what I really like to do is exploring the really dark, murky, swampy primal parts of the human psyche; that’s where mythology comes from, and mythology is extremely violent. How many time Zeus becomes an animal and has sex with a woman, or with a man for that matter…it’s all just about our wild primal urges that get to be expressed somehow. True Blood is real fun, and it’s an outlet for this part of the brain to get fed.

Read the rest of this very interesting interview with Alan Ball by going to:

PBS’ “America in Primetime” explores the roots of today’s biggest television hits and Alan Ball’s shows of “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood” will be highlighted.

Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore talk about “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” David Chase talks about “The Sopranos.” Diane English and Candice Bergen talk about “Murphy Brown.” Alan Ball talks about “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood.” Alan Alda talks about “M*A*S*H.” David Lynch talks about “Twin Peaks.” Mike Judge talks about “Beavis & Butt-head.”

And they — along with dozens of other writers, actors, producers and network executive producers — all talk about each other’s shows. It’s absolutely fascinating.

The four-part series premieres Sundays, October 30-November 20, 2011, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET on PBS. The program is a production of WETA Washington, DC, and The Documentary Group, in association with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation. Funding is provided by the Annenberg Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.

But “America in Primetime” isn’t a history of television. “That wasn’t our goal,” insisted executive producer Tom Yellin. “ ‘America in Primetime’ is an attempt to explore the creative process that great artists who work in the prime-time, scripted entertainment medium go through.

It’s as close as you can get to understanding the magic that’s behind a hit TV show.

Each of the four hourlong episodes looks at TV through the prism of its own history. Episodes about male archetypes, female archetypes, misfits and heroes contain a through-line in which later series are built upon the work done by earlier series.

We all stand on the shoulders of everything that came before us,“ said “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator/executive producer Phil Rosenthal.


Alan Ball to Executive Produce ‘Wichita’

Posted by Lynnpd On October - 22 - 2011

True Blood executive producer Alan Ball is doing lots more than True Blood these days.  Now he is developing a medical drama at HBO about a Kansas surgeon who becomes the center of a firestorm.

Ball is set to executive produce Wichita with Jimmy Miller and writer Devin Friedman, who is writing the project and co-executive producing. Last year, Friedman wrote about the late Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita, Kansas, doctor who was one of the few to provide late-term abortions, for GQ.

Tiller, the medical director of the Women’s Health Care Services facility, survived an assassination attempt in 1993 and was shot and killed by an anti-abortion activist in 2009.

Wichita would be Ball’s third project at HBO, following Six Feet Under and True Blood. He is also set to executive produce Banshee, a drama set in Pennsylvania’s Amish country, for HBO’s sister network Cinemax.




Alan Ball Makes THR’s Power Show Runners List

Posted by Lynnpd On October - 13 - 2011

The Hollywood Reporter’s fourth annual Power Show Runners list shines a spotlight on the 50 most influential — and valuable — creative chiefs writing, producing and redefining television and True Blood’s Alan Ball makes the list.

Selections for the list of the top showrunners were based on the following criteria:

1. Direct responsibility for the day-to-day creative output of a scripted TV show that has aired for at least one full season (unless he or she also had another show on the air).
2. How prolific the showrunner is: Those with more shows on the air were more likely to be included.
3. Nielsen ratings, especially relative to other shows on the same network.
4. Emmy attention and critical praise.
5. Professionalism and reputation among studio and network executives.


In the Drama category, Alan Ball came first on their list and below is what they had to say about why he was chosen:

After the fourth season of the vampire hit maintained nearly 5 million viewers, Ball inked a multiyear deal with HBO that will see him stay on full time for the series’ fifth season. “There will be an end for me at some point,” Ball said in July during the Television Critics Association press tour, “though I don’t have any desire to leave because I’m having more fun than I ever had in my life.” The Georgia-born Emmy winner (for Six Feet Under) and Oscar winner (American Beauty) also has a dark comedy pitch set up through his Your Face Goes Here Entertainment banner at Paramount with Elan Mastai. As for how long True Blood could realistically run, Ball, 54, says, “I think if we did 13 seasons, we’d have to address why the vampires are aging.”


To see who else made the list and learn more about it, go to:

Q&A with Alan Ball at the Sydney Opera House

Posted by Lynnpd On September - 14 - 2011

Alan Ball appeared at the Sydney Opera House last week, September 8, 2011 and there is now a video provided of the entire Q&A.  Alan Ball talks about that the story is grounded in the characters. He says that the philosophy he follows with the writers, is that “it’s the emotions, stupid.”  That is clearly something that we see in True Blood and in all of Alan’s work. The Q&A is well over an hour long, but so worth a listen!

Here’s an excerpt of what you can expect to see if you go to their site and see the hour long Q&A.

Click on the image below to watch the entire  fascinating discussion with the genius behind our favorite show, True Blood.


Video: Alan Ball on Vampires and Gay Rights

Posted by Lynnpd On September - 11 - 2011

In the video below, Alan Ball, talks about vampires, gay rights and Buddhism. Alan is very candid about his 10 year relationship, his interest in the Buddist religion and of course, about the attraction of vampires.



13 Things Learned from Alan Ball at Sydney Opera House

Posted by Shadaliza On September - 9 - 2011

True Blood’s Alan Ball had his conversation with Wil Anderson at the Sydney Opera House last night. According to the writer of this article, it was a great event and everyone enjoyed themselves.  The author has one item wrong however.  In #10, it says, “Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer started hooking up by the second episode of season one of True Blood! But apparently they aren’t together anymore, which was news to me. ”  I think the author misunderstood, I’m sure that Alan or whoever said it, meant “Bill and Sookie” aren’t together anymore.  Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer are happily married and just celebrated their first wedding anniversary.

Here are a few of the things Pedestrian.TV learned from an evening with Alan Ball: Vampires, Death and the Mundane:

1. Alan Ball wanted originally to be an actor. However, he and his friends were never cast in the college productions to which they aspired, leading him to writing, which he realised (in his second year at college) was what he wanted to do. I think I can speak for everyone in attendance last night when I say, thank God he couldn’t act.

2. One of his first writing jobs was for a sitcom called Oh, Grow Up, which involved a talking dog whose thoughts were communicated via subtitles. The idea was universally hated. Sound familiar, Mike Mills? The talking dog went on to become something of a conversational motif throughout the evening, ensuring many a laugh was had.

3. Death obviously featured prominently throughout the evening. When asked how he’d like to go, Ball replied that he would like to have his cremated ashes stuffed inside said talking dog. Again, many laughs.

4. When HBO first came to Ball with the proposal for Six Feet Under during his time at the critically-panned sitcom, he instantly clicked with the concept of a ‘family living in a funeral home’ but couldn’t commit at the time. Having been confronted with death head on very early on in life, Ball immediately identified with the horrible (I think he said ‘fucked up’) suppression of grief and emotion experienced in funeral homes, his own mother having been whisked off behind a curtain at the first visible sign of her grieving at her daughter’s funeral. His own experiences with his sister’s death and her subsequent showing in an open casket would later go on to inform his time writing at Six Feet Under.

5. Again, when first optioned by HBO, Ball was still attached to Oh, Grow Up. When ABC ‘graciously’ cancelled the flailing sitcom, Ball was free to resume writing the pilot for Six Feet Under so that when HBO got back to him, they asked him to ‘make it more fucked up.’ So he did. Everyone liked that bit.

6. The final scene from Six Feet Under makes everyone cry. Even if you haven’t seen any of the episodes leading up to it. Also, Wil is friends with Sia Furler and cried his eyes out when he watched it alone in a hotel room. Everyone agreed.

7. The plastic bag moment from American Beauty actually happened to Ball in real life. Ball was walking back from Sunday brunch through an empty World Trade Centre Plaza one day, and this bag was, like, dancing with him. Like a little kid begging him to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that’s the day he knew there was this entire life behind things, and… this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted him to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever.

10. Australian (and presumeably other international) actors have less hang-ups about nudity on-screen than their American counterparts. Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer started hooking up by the second episode of season one of True Blood! But apparently they aren’t together anymore, which was news to me. That doesn’t matter, though, because they are ‘consummate professionals.’ Although apparently things can get a bit weird now that their characters have started hooking up with other characters on-screen. Including Alexander Skarsgård, who Wil would turn for, repeatedly. Again, everyone agreed.

To read all 13 things, go to:

The creator of True Blood, Alan Ball is travelling in Australia right now and, as we previously reported, will be seen in his appearance at the Sydney Opera House tomorrow. Best known for True Blood and Six Feet Under, as well as American Beauty, the film that earned him an Oscar, all that counted for nothing as his neighbour Quentin Tarantino went ballistic over his noisy parrots.

In Sydney, Ball tells The Australian he is amazed Tarantino didn’t even bother to get in touch before calling in his lawyers, who then sued him in March.

Not only did he sue us but he leaked it to TMZ at exactly the same time,” he says. “It was a very aggressive move.”

The macaws ended up in a Santa Monica sanctuary as part of a rehabilitation program for returning war veterans, with Ball paying Tarantino’s court costs.

His comments come ahead of a pair of public talks to be given by Ball in Sydney and Melbourne about his life and work.

While he admits the popular obsession with vampires is probably peaking, True Blood, in its fourth season, shows no signs of slowing down.

Ball, 54, says he enjoys tapping into his audience’s subconscious primal urges. “I think the show gives people an hour in the week when they can let their minds do really bad things, like the [True Blood] title song,” he says, referring to Jace Everett’s Bad Things.

But it’s not just the mythical creatures or the toned bodies that make the characters of True Blood so attractive. Ball wants to show their depth as well. He describes himself as an “elementary student of Buddhism” and says all beings deserve compassion.

He believes, by writing in a way that does not judge the characters, he creates more interesting story-lines that engage audiences. “I feel so much of pop-culture entertainment is delineated by heroes and villains. We want the heroes to succeed and we want the villain to be punished,” he says. “I’m not interested in judging characters, I’m interested in trying to show why these characters do the things they do.

Openly gay, Ball grew up in a “very repressed home” in the southern US state of Georgia. He says much of his personal journey towards self-acceptance is reflected in his work and the characters he develops.

Growing up as a WASP, you repress feelings until they come out as a heart attack or tumour,” he says. “Embrace the feelings, embrace the things that are not perfect, embrace the messiness, warts and all. Embrace it and don’t be afraid of it.”


Alan Ball

Below is a portion of an article with Alan Ball where he talks about True Blood and the differences of working in film vs. TV. He also comments about those that aren’t happy that he hasn’t completely followed the Sookie Stackhouse books for True Blood.  He says,  ’I don’t really pay too much attention to it,”  and goes on to say,If we did that first of all there would be no surprises and second of all poor Anna Pacquin would work five days a week, 12 hours a day.”   

Alan has worked in both television and film, and he says the small screen is able to tackle more sophisticated story lines.

“Partially it’s because the economic models are different and partially it’s because you have hours and hours to tell a story where as in a movie you just have two hours and you have to simplify everything down to its pure essentials.

“I also feel that in America, at least, movies are all targeted at 15-year-olds and there’s nothing wrong with that, they’re the ones that are buying tickets, but as an adult I feel that TV is a much more welcoming place for complicated, adult writing.”

And Ball believes the move to more complicated, adult issues on television isn’t just limited to the US.

He says he’s recently discovered the Australian ABC series Rake, starring Richard Roxburgh, and has become a big fan.

“I love it,” he says.

It’s so complicated and messed up and the character is such a screw-up that I get excited every time it’s on and I look forward to watching the episodes.”

While his gauge for all his television shows is whether he would like it, he says there’s no way of knowing if it will be a hit.

I have tried in the past to work out some kind of formula and it just doesn’t exist,” he says.

“I’ve done plenty of things that I thought would work like gangbusters and they didn’t and I had no idea that True Blood would become the phenomenon that it has become.”

ALthough True Blood is based on Harris’ novels, some of the storylines and characters do deviate from the books.

This has raised the ire of some die-hard fans of the novels but Ball says he’s creating a film version of the books which has different requirements.

“There are some people who feel like we’re not true enough to the books but I don’t really pay too much attention to it,” he says.

“Ultimately I just work with the writers on the show and we just try to do what we think is the best film version of her books.”

Besides he says, the novels are all from the point of view of Sookie Stackhouse which would mean lead actress Anna Pacquin would be working around the clock.

If we did that first of all there would be no surprises and second of all poor Anna Pacquin would work five days a week, 12 hours a day,” he says.

read the rest of this article by going to:

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