Wednesday, November 30, 2011

‘Simpsons’ writer from Bristol pens play about CT

It’s been a long, creative journey for Bristol Eastern High School graduate Mike Reiss, who’s a Peabody Award winner and four-time Emmy award-winning writer.
He’s been writing for “The Simpsons” for more than two decades and now is returning to his Connecticut roots in a new play he wrote, “I’m Connecticut.”
Reiss expressed pride in the Nutmeg State and particularly his hometown in a recent interview.
“I love Bristol,” Reiss said.

He attended Memorial Boulevard Public School, Thomas Patterson School and then Bristol Eastern.

After he graduated from high school in 1977, Reiss’ family moved to Arizona and he later attended Harvard University. Yet he admitted that he holds a greater appreciation for his high school days.
“I went to Harvard but did not like it as much as Bristol Eastern,” he said.
He explained that a random conversation years later gave root to “I’m Connecticut.”
“The idea was pitched to me at UConn. A guy said I should write a play about Connecticut. I laughed it off then, but the idea stuck,” he said.
Reiss finally sat down and wrote the play and made it about a 30-something Connecticut native now living in New York trying to come to terms with an apparent lack of personality that he attributes to his upbringing in Simsbury.
The production has attracted an impressive cast.
Joyce DeWitt, best known for her role in the sitcom “Three’s Company,” plays Polly; Tony Award-winning actor Jerry Adler, who you might know from “The Sopranos,” plays grandpa; and Harris Doran, who comes from New York theater, plays Marc.
“I’m delighted with the cast. I thought it was going to be a little college production, where students play adults, but they got a bunch of professional actors, which is way beyond anything I conceived,” Reiss said.
Once the play opens at UConn Friday, Reiss will return to his adopted home of Los Angeles and continue to work on “The Simpsons.”
“I’ve been working on ‘The Simpsons’ for 23 years. The hardest thing about doing the show now is finding something someone hasn’t written about yet,” he said.
Reiss and his writing partner, Al Jean, were the first two hired to write for the show back in 1989. Before that they wrote for National Lampoon magazine and shows like “Alf,” “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.”
He mentioned that “The Simpsons” is coming back for at least two more years and that another Simpsons movie is likely.
“I think we’ll do another movie someday,” he said.

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