It's been a year of ups and downs for playwright Herb Gardner -- but he's hoping to end 1996 on a serious up.
Gardner has directed his own film adaptation of his Tony-winning Broadway comedy I'm Not Rappaport starring Walter Matthau, Ossie Davis, Amy Irving and Boyd Gaines.
Gardner's first big hit, A Thousand Clowns was revived by Roundabout Theatre Company on Broadway, but the production went through two directors, two leading men and a delay of nearly a month before opening and closing quietly.
His 1986 comedy I'm Not Rappaport started at Seattle Rep, got raves in its Off-Broadway premiere and wound up running two years in its original production, which also starred Hirsch.
Set in New York's Central Park, I'm Not Rappaport is about two garrulous elderly men, one black, one Jewish. Their notions of how the world works is put to the test when they conspire to confront a bullying drug dealer, one man's bullying daughter and the other's bullying boss. Gardner also wrote Conversations With My Father, Thieves, The Goodbye People and Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?.
The 1965 movie version of A Thousand Clowns, directed by Fred Coe and starring Jason Robards and Barbara Harris, became a cult film, though the 1984 film adaptation of The Goodbye People, directed by Gardner and also starring Hirsch, flopped.
-- By Robert Viagas