Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Birthday to Oscar- and Emmy-Winning Writer, Director Alan Ball

Alan Ball was born today, May 13, in 1957. He is a writer, director, and producer for television, film, and theater.

He wrote American Beauty, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay (and a Golden Globe), and created Six Feet Under and True Blood. He won an Emmy as a directing on Six Feet Under, and awards from the Writers, Directors, and Producers Guilds.

Ball was born in Marietta, Georgia. His older sister, Mary Ann, was killed in a car accident when Ball was 13; he was in the passenger seat at the time. He attended high school in Marietta, and went on to attend the University of Georgia and Florida State University, from which he graduated in 1980 with a degree in theater arts. After college, he began work as a playwright at the General Nonsense Theater Company in Sarasota, Florida.

Ball broke into television as a writer and story editor on the situation comedies Grace Under Fire and Cybill.

Ball has written two films, American Beauty (1999) and Towelhead (2007), the latter of which he also produced and directed. He is also the creator, writer and executive producer of the HBO drama series Six Feet Under and True Blood. He was showrunner for True Blood for its first five seasons.

Ball's family drama Here and Now was his most recent series. A 10-episode first season starred Tim Robbins and Holly Hunter. It is
 described as a provocative and darkly comic meditation on the disparate forces polarizing present-day American culture, as experienced by the members of a progressive multi-ethnic family - a philosophy professor and his wife, their adopted children from Vietnam, Liberia and Colombia, and their sole biological child - and a contemporary Muslim family, headed by a psychiatrist who is treating one of their children. 

Ball has discussed his Buddhist faith in numerous interviews, noting how it has influenced his film making. In an interview with, Ball commented on the iconic scene in American Beauty with the plastic bag, stating, "I had an encounter with a plastic bag! And I didn't have a video camera, like Ricky does... There's a Buddhist notion of the miraculous within the mundane, and I think we certainly live in a culture that encourages us not to look for that." Ball has also discussed how his Buddhism has shaped themes in Six Feet Under and True Blood which he has substantially contributed to.

Ball is gay and has been called "a strong voice for [the] LGBT community." In 2008 he made Out magazine's annual list of the 100 most impressive gay men and women. He lives in Los Angeles with his partner, Peter Macdissi (at right with Ball), who has starred in several of Ball's projects.

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