This American playwright has made occasional forays into motion pictures and TV with generally successful results. Murray Schisgal's profile benefited from his association with actor-director Dustin H...
Gelbart died last month (Sep09) after a battle with cancer but in an interview conducted a year before his passing, he blamed the actor for declaring it was his pal Murray Schisgal who conceived of the 1982 comedy, about an entertainer who dresses as a woman to find work.
But Gelbart, who won an Academy Award for co-writing the film, was adamant the idea for the screenplay was his own.
He told Mike Sacks, "Tootsie is my vision, despite Dustin Hoffman's lifelong mission to deprive anybody of any credit connected with that movie, except for his close friend, the writer and producer Murray Schisgal.
"I say that because Dustin appeared with James Lipton on (TV series) Inside the Actors Studio in 2006 and declared that the Tootsie idea sprang from Schisgal's intestines. I don't know much about gastroenterology, but I do know that the central theme for Tootsie came from me. And the central theme was that Dustin's character, Michael Dorsey, would become a better man for having been a woman. That was the cornerstone of the film. All of the other details are just floating around that idea."
Gelbart shared his Best Original Screenplay Oscar with Schisgal and Don McGuire.
Ryan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Jennifer (Claire Forlani) first met on a plane when they were 12. He’s terrified of planes she promptly tells him about her first period so it’s granted that they don’t exactly click. Fast-forward to high school where they bump into each other again. Now he’s the school mascot she’s the homecoming queen. No sparks. Fast forward to college where he’s the geeky engineering major (yes you read correctly) and she’s the free-spirited rocker-dating Latin student. Finally here they become friends help each other with their love issues and despite their opposing viewpoints … well take a guess.
Prinze the BMOC in "She’s All That " is supposed to be an anal-retentive doofus. And while the pageboy cut (split down the middle) and glasses do little to mask his good looks he plays against type surprisingly well doing his best to rise above the cliché-filled script. Forlani who was calm and luminous in the sluggish "Meet Joe Black " still has "proper British upbringing" written all over her so she’s not really believable as an outrageous one-night-stander (she also looks too old for Prinze). Heather Donahue (showing a promising comedy career post-"Blair Witch") and Amanda Detmer make a great supporting cast but the show is stolen by an underused Jason Biggs. As Ryan’s woman-chasing roommate Biggs also gets the single funniest scene in the film which you’ll miss if you walk about before the credits roll.
"She’s All That" director Robert Iscove is back and using the same traits again. First we have the you-are-there flashback narration ("So I was watching him play with his band " a character might reflect in her dorm room and suddenly she’s sitting at the concert still in her pajamas). Then there’s the choreographed dance number. Disguised as a scene to show Ryan trying to loosen up at a "foam club" (like a car wash soapy water douses the dancers) it’s really an excuse to show off Iscove’s choreography background by having all patrons wiggle simultaneously to Apollo Four Forty’s "Stop the Rock." It’s cute and all but the biggest faux pas Iscove makes is having Ryan and Jennifer take a "walk" from Berkeley … and miraculously wind up at the Golden Gate bridge.
Adapted his Off-Broadway success as "The Tiger Makes Out"; film marked feature acting debut of Dustin Hoffman
Play "Jimmy Shine" produced on Broadway directed by and starring Hoffman
Was one of three credited writers on the hit comedy film "Tootsie", starring Dustin Hoffman; shared Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay; sparked controversy as Larry Gelbart objected to sharing credit on the film
Wrote first produced screenplay, "Ducks and Lovers"
Had major Broadway success with "Luv"
Wrote the libretto for "What About Luv?"; premiered in England; based on his Broadway hit
New York premiere of "The Typist"; produced Off-Broadway on a double bill with "The Tiger"
Served in US Navy
First teleplay produced, "The Love Song of Barney Kempinski" (ABC)
Abandoned law to become a teacher
After passing the New York State bar, practiced law
First produced play, "The Typist"; opened in London
Hoffman directed the Broadway version of "All Over Town"
Earned living as musician
Adapted "Jimmy Shine" into the musical "An Original Jimmy Shine"; premiered at UCLA
This American playwright has made occasional forays into motion pictures and TV with generally successful results. Murray Schisgal's profile benefited from his association with actor-director Dustin Hoffman beginning in the late 1960s on stage and culminating in 1982's comedy classic "Tootsie". (He shared final writing credit--and a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination--with Larry Gelbart and Don McGuire although there remains controversy over the contributions of each writer.)
A native of Brooklyn, Schisgal turned to writing plays after careers as a musician, attorney and teacher. His early work reached the stage in Britain before hitting New York, with "The Typist" premiering on the London stage in 1961, and not making it to the Orpheum Theatre in New York until 1963. His first Broadway success came with "Luv", a three-character play about pseudo-intellectuals, which premiered in 1964 and earned a Tony Award for director Mike Nichols. The play was the basis of a failed 1967 film adaptation scripted by Elliot Baker and starring Jack Lemmon, Elaine May and Peter Falk. Also in 1967, Schisgal penned "The Tiger Makes Out", the screen version of his first produced play which featured Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson and marked the screen debut of Dustin Hoffman. Although he had become an established film personality with 1967's "The Graduate", Hoffman chose to return to the theater as star and director of Schisgal's "Jimmy Shine" (1968) and later as director of "All Over Town" (1974). Most of the writer's other plays have been produced either at small theaters in NYC or at regional theaters.