Brad Schreiber is an American playwright, screenwriter, author, journalist, essayist, literary consultant and instructor, as well as actor and producer. His writing, in the fields of stage, television, books, magazines, newspapers and radio reflect not only eclecticism but also a willingness to experiment with form and content.
Born in New York City, Schreiber’s father, Andrew, was a visual artist who in 1966 founded the Educationally Handicapped (E.H) program for high school students in San Mateo County (California) that became Special Education in the United States. Schreiber’s mother, Mona, was an actress, writer, writing instructor as well as founder of the Foster City Writers Contest. She inspired Schreiber to found the international humor-writing contest, the Mona Schreiber Prize for Humorous Fiction and Nonfiction in 2000.
The initial development of Schreiber’s writing came in Burlingame High School, when he was editor-in-chief of the Burlingame B newspaper and the Phoenix literary magazine.
Schreiber majored in Creative Writing and Theatre Arts at San Francisco State University, where his prose writing was influenced by studying poetry writing with Leonard Wolf. His interest in experimentation with form was expanded via two theatre-comedy groups in which he wrote and performed, the Burlingame Philharmonic Orchestra and Friends of the Ozone (1973–77), working on live TV and radio, in recording studios and in clubs and theatres throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
In 1980, he was among a group of writers who created the San Francisco Playwrights’ Center. Schreiber’s interest in playwriting expanded with the production of his work at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival and his interaction there with Sam Shepard (1981–82), as well as the support he received from the Edward F. Albee Foundation, Inc. and its founder, Edward Albee, in 1982. In 1984, Schreiber moved to Los Angeles and became one of the founders of Theatre of NOTE.
Beginning in 1986, Schreiber worked on and off as a writer, producer and programming executive at Public Broadcasting Service affiliate KCET in Los Angeles. In 1992, he began a long association with director Jonathan Kaplan, as his director of development, analyzing scripts, books, stories and other source material submitted to the director as potential TV or film projects.
Christopher Vogler, author of the internationally renowned story structure book The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, asked Schreiber in 1999 to take on the position of Vice President of Storytech Literary Consulting. His consultations on client books and scripts incorporated not only Vogler’s ideas on The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, but Schreiber’s own experiences as writer, executive, producer and critic. He served for 11 years before becoming an independent literary consultant.
Schreiber’s first book was Weird Wonders and Bizarre Blunders: The Official Book of Ridiculous Records (1989), a best-selling parody of the Guinness Book of World Records. Schreiber managed to convince media sources including The National Enquirer, NBC-TV’s Unsolved Mysteries and the syndicated comic strip Ripley’s Believe It or Not that Weird Wonders records, like “Longest Tongue” and “Worst Plea for Money by a TV Evangelist” were real.
In 1998, book packager Don Ackland (using the nom de plume Tony Blanche) hired Schreiber to research, write and find photos for Death in Paradise: An Illustrated History of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner. It was the only authorized history of the L.A. Coroner, the most technologically advanced in the world. Death in Paradise included the history and development of forensic science as well as the most psychologically, sociologically and forensically challenging cases of high profile murder, suicide and accidental death in Los Angeles County throughout the 20th century.
Influenced by Death in Paradise, Schreiber created the cable TV nonfiction series North Mission Road, which used cases from the L.A. Coroner and ran from 2003-2007 on Court TV (now truTV).
What Are You Laughing At?: How to Write Funny Screenplays, Stories and More (2001), an instructional book on humor writing, was the first to address both screenwriting and all forms of prose writing in the humorous form. Its most significant contributions to the academic study of the field were the sections “13 Things Bad Screenwriters Commonly Do” and “11 Modes of Comedic Dialogue.”
In 2006, Schreiber published Stop the Show!: A History of Insane Incidents and Absurd Accidents in the Theater. The book was a compendium of true stories about both notable and unknown theatre artists, recounting generally humorous, although occasionally horrific stories about accidents during live theatre, primarily in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom, throughout the 20th century.
In 2010, Schreiber collaborated with Jimi Hendrix historian Steven Roby to write Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius (Da Capo/Perseus). The early years biography covered the years 1962-66 in the formation of the greatest electric guitarist in history.
Schreiber’s arts journalism has appeared in national publications like the Los Angeles Times, The Writer, Daily Variety and the web site the Huffington Post. In 1995, he started writing a column entitled “Development Hell” in the oldest weekly newspaper in Los Angeles, Entertainment Today (founded 1967).
In the beginning, the column compared recent film releases with the script versions on which he had consulted for Kaplan. His work for Entertainment Today, now a web site, evolved into book, film, television, music and theatre arts journalism as well as interviews, essays and parody news stories on the arts and politics.
In addition to the production of his stage plays, Schreiber’s interest in science fiction, particularly the themes of robotics and extraterrestrial intelligence, motivated him to adapt the work of notable science fiction authors for National Public Radio, including the stories “The One Who Waits” by Ray Bradbury (1987, awarded by the National Audio Theatre Festival), “Sales Pitch” by Philip K. Dick (1989) and “The Proud Robot” by Lewis Padgett (2000) which aired on the Science Fiction Writers of America award-winning series 2000X.
- Official website
- RedRoom.com website
- A Critical Moment arts journalism archive
- Mona Schreiber Prize for Humorous Fiction and Nonfiction
- Variety stories by Brad Schreiber
- Huffington Post stories by Brad Schreiber
- “13 Things Bad Screenwriters Commonly Do” by Brad Schreiber
- L.A. Weekly review of Stop the Show!
- “Errol Morris: Writing the Documentary in Your Head” by Brad Schreiber in Script Magazine
- Interview with Brad Schreiber on Politics, Paranoia and Philip K. Dick, KUCI-FM, University of California, Irvine