Former playwright-turned-filmmaker, Alan Ball left behind the rather anonymous and distressing world of sitcom writing to make his breakthrough as the screenwriter of the Academy Award winning film, "American Beauty" (1999). Prior to that success, Ball penned off-Broadway productions, including "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress," before cutting his teeth on sitcoms like "Grace Under Fire" (ABC, 1993-98) and "Cybill" (CBS, 1994-98). Because of his fascination with dysfunctional families, he created "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05), a darkly comic drama about a family that runs a funeral home in Los Angeles after the untimely death of their patriarch (Richard Jenkins). With its morbidly funny take on mortality and those who deal with it on a daily basis, "Six Feet Under" quickly became a flagship series for HBO, while earning numerous awards and nominations. For his part, Ball established himself as one of the preeminent talents on television and on the big screen, earning a reputation for unflinching drama tinged with a dark sense of humor.