Kabir Akhtar

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Kabir Akhtar (born January 11, 1975) is an American television director and Emmy-nominated editor, and is also the creator of The Tool Page [1], the oldest website dedicated to the Grammy-winning band Tool.

Akhtar has been running the website (also known as "toolshed") since 1994; it has been online longer than many popular sites, including mainstays Google, YouTube, and Yahoo!.[1][2][3] Akhtar and his site have gained some notoriety for being the source of several April Fools' Day pranks.

Career[edit]

Akhtar's credits include work for Arrested Development, New Girl, The Daily Show, Unsolved Mysteries, Behind the Music, and the Academy Awards. He also directed the pilot episode of the MTV series 8th & Ocean, and the TV Diaries pilot for Fox.[4]

In 2005, while directing for Comedy Central's The Showbiz Show with David Spade, he directed a short film at the Skywalker Ranch.[5] The short, which starred Brian Posehn alongside Star Wars characters Darth Vader and Chewbacca, was reviewed favorably by StarWars.com as being "like nothing you've ever seen." [6]

Akhtar also directed a series of shorts for Comedy Central starring Adam Sandler and Kate Beckinsale, which aired in 2006.[7] Later that year, Akhtar was a guest on The Mediocre Show, where he was interviewed about his work and his association with Tool (see below).[8] He also edited the opening film and several short films for the 78th Annual Academy Awards, which were well-reviewed.[9]

In 2007, NBC listed Akhtar as one of the entertainment industry's "People to Watch", for his work as an emerging director.[10] A few months later, Radar Magazine praised Akhtar's work on the first season of Tracey Ullman's Showtime series State of the Union as "slick editing, [with] skillful use of stock footage." [11]

Akhtar has worked internationally as well, directing three episodes of the British comedy series Mumbai Calling. The series, which was shot entirely in India, aired in 2009 on ITV in England and HBO in Australia. [12][13]

A few years later, Akhtar did more work on the awards show circuit, directing part of the opening film for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards starring Jane Lynch and Leonard Nimoy, and directing a segment of the 84th Academy Awards, starring host Billy Crystal and Melissa McCarthy in a well-received segment. He also edited the opening films for both broadcasts, and was nominated for an Emmy for editing the Oscars opening.[14][15][16] Following the nomination, Akhtar became the lead editor on the fourth season of Arrested Development, and spoke at Prime Cuts, an annual event in Hollywood featuring Emmy-nominated editors.[17][18][19][20]

In addition to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences panel, Akhtar has also been a featured speaker at events held by both the Directors Guild of America and The Sundance Film Festival. At a comedy workshop presented by the latter, he advised attendees that although filmmakers “can find the comedy on set", they "can break it in editing. Comedy is fragile." [21]

Awards[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2012 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Picture Editing For Short-Form Segments And Variety Specials 84th Academy Awards, Opening Film Nominated
2013 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series[22] Arrested Development, "Flight of the Phoenix" Nominated
2014 A.C.E Eddie Awards Best Edited Half-Hour Series for Television Arrested Development, "Flight of the Phoenix" Pending

Association with Tool[edit]

In 1994, Akhtar started work on an unofficial website about the band Tool. Part of this effort was the writing of the Tool FAQ, a document which has often been cited as a source of information about the band.[23][24][25] However, because there was little information available about the band in the days before widespread Internet usage, there were many incomplete sections in the original edition of the FAQ. In early 1995, Akhtar began corresponding online with the band's singer, Maynard James Keenan. Keenan sent him the then-unpublished lyrics to the band's entire catalog, and filled in the gaps in the FAQ. Shortly thereafter, Akhtar's website was christened "The Tool Page," and began tracking Tool news updates.[8][25][26][27]

Akhtar and Keenan's relationship has continued since then, with the two collaborating on releasing information about the secretive band, and even on selling Keenan's car.[28] When Akhtar created a section of the site for fans to discuss their interpretations of Tool's dense lyrics, Keenan became an occasional reader.[29] Their association led to the band acknowledging Akhtar's work on their official site, and begat the site's description as "semi-official." [30][31][32][33]

Akhtar was also an early adopter of online video technology, offering streaming music videos on the site as early as 1996, nine years before the advent of YouTube.[34]

That same year, MTV renamed Tool's music video "Stinkfist" due to offensive connotations, and the lyrics of the song were altered.[35][36] Akhtar encouraged fans to contact MTV and complain about the censorship. In response to the overwhelming amount of emails sent, Matt Pinfield of MTV's 120 Minutes expressed regret on air by waving his fist in front of his face while introducing the video and explaining the name change.[27][35]

Akhtar has been a repeat guest on the Australian nationwide radio network Triple J, appearing on segments of The J-Files, hosted by Richard Kingsmill. Each appearance centered on discussion of Tool and the success of the website. [24][25][37]

In addition to being reviewed or cited numerous times in the media (in the New York Post,[27] MTV,[38][39][40] The Village Voice,[33] Alternative Press [41][42][43]), Akhtar has been the recipient of numerous awards, including Rolling Stone's "Hitsworld" #1 Artist Site, Shoutweb's Best Unofficial Artist Site, and was the only recipient of Tool's own Best Unofficial Site Award.[26][44][45] Although some of these sites are now defunct, these awards demonstrate a significant presence in the early days of the online music scene. Akhtar has kept the site running for over seventeen years.

April Fools' Day pranks[edit]

Akhtar posted an April Fools' Day prank to The Tool Page every year from 1997 to 2011, except 2008 and 2010. Although he has gained a reputation for writing a fake post annually, some of his posts have been picked up by the media and believed as true.

1997: Bus accident[edit]

April 1, 1997, saw the first of several April Fools' Day pranks related to the band, created by Akhtar. That day, he wrote that "at least three of the band are listed in critical condition" after a tour bus accident on a highway.[46]

His hoax gained wide attention, and was reported throughout the day on radio stations nationwide; many stations reported it as if it were true. Tool's record label was flooded with calls from people who believed the prank was real.[38][42] The following day, MTV began running hourly on-air updates debunking the claim.[33] Akhtar later posted an apology, claiming that The Tool Page "will not indulge itself in such outlandish pranks in the future"—a claim that would be belied by later April Fools' pranks.[46]

Additionally, on the subsequent weekend's MTV series Week In Rock, Kurt Loder went so far as to refer to Akhtar as "some clown". (Loder also incorrectly described Tool as an "industrial" band.) [8][40] Akhtar responded in an interview in Alternative Press, saying "I didn't think it was responsible of [Loder] to call me a clown." However, when the band (who are known to enjoy misleading the press) learned of the prank, they sent Akhtar a platinum copy of their then-latest album, Ænima.[26][42]

2005: Maynard finds Jesus[edit]

Akhtar posted an annual prank every April Fools' Day after that, some of which were noted by various media outlets.[47][48] None of the subsequent posts, though, were reported to the extent that the above-mentioned "bus crash" was, until 2005.

On April 1, 2005, Keenan emailed Akhtar to ask for his collaboration with a prank to be announced on Tool's official website. [49] Tool announced that "Maynard has found Jesus" and that he would be abandoning the recording of the next Tool album possibly permanently.[50] Hours later, Akhtar posted a letter to his site from Keenan, stating that the announcement was true. MTV News picked up the story, reporting that because both Tool's and Akhtar's websites had the same news, they were unsure whether it was real or not. Kurt Loder of MTV contacted Keenan to ask for a confirmation and received a nonchalant confirmation.[39] Brian Welch (formerly of the band Korn), who made the same news some months earlier, was delighted. However, on April 6 Akhtar explained that it had just been a prank; Tool's site followed suit on April 7.[51][52]

2007: Danny's broken arm[edit]

On April 1, 2007, Akhtar posted a note to The Tool Page, advising that the band's upcoming spring tour would be cancelled due to drummer Danny Carey's injured arm. Though the post was a hoax, Carey's arm had been injured earlier that year, a fact that led some news outlets (including Spin Magazine) to run the story as if it were true.[53]

Personal life[edit]

He is the son of noted psychiatrist Salman Akhtar, is the nephew of award-winning Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar and of actress Shabana Azmi, and is the first cousin of film directors Farhan Akhtar and Zoya Akhtar. He is also the grandson of Urdu poet Jan Nisar Akhtar, and the great-great-great-grandson of Indian poet and freedom fighter Maulana Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi.[12][54]

Akhtar is a cyclist, and was interviewed on Marketplace discussing the Los Angeles Ciclavia event.[55] He is also a fan of NFL football, and has been quoted in at least one article on the NFL's website.[56]

By the time he was nine years old, the state of Pennsylvania had recognized him as having "outstanding intellectual and creative ability." [57] Akhtar went on to take an interest in theater, working on several productions while attending both Lower Merion High School and the University of Pennsylvania.[58][59][60][61][62]

While a student at Penn, he was one of the architects of a prank which involved spelling out a highly visible message in Christmas lights across the front of the 20th floor of a campus building.[63] He also was elected to the Board of Governors of the Intuitons Experimental Theater company.[64]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

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  5. ^ "Kabir Akhtar: Director & Editor". Eleven Pictures. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  6. ^ Hidalgo, Pablo (2005-11-07). "The Showbiz Show to feature Star Wars". starwars.com. Lucasfilm Online. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  7. ^ "Comedy Central Press Release". Viacom. 2006-06-12. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  8. ^ a b c "The Mediocre Show Archive". The Mediocre Show. 2006-10-19. Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
  9. ^ "The Dresses, Low Cut, but the Tones Were Lofty". The New York Times. 2006-03-06. Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
  10. ^ "NBC Diverse City". nbc.com. NBC. 2007-11-30. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  11. ^ Eber, Hailey (2008-03-28). "TV Review: Tracey Ullman's State Of The Union". Radar Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  12. ^ a b Kabir Akhtar at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ "New York Times Filmography for Kabir Akhtar". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  14. ^ "Official Emmy Nominations". 2012-07-19. 
  15. ^ "Emmy nominations 2012: The complete list". 2012-07-19. 
  16. ^ "The Complete 2012 Emmy Award Nominations". indieWire. 2012-07-19. 
  17. ^ "The Mediocre Show #493". The Mediocre Show. 2013-05-22. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  18. ^ Brenner, Lisa (2013-05-24). "How 'Arrested Development' editor Kabir Akhtar solved the 'Season 4' puzzle". Southern California Public Radio. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  19. ^ "6th Annual Prime Cuts". 2012-09-09. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  20. ^ "6th Annual Prime Cuts". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 2012-09-09. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  21. ^ Adelman, Kim. "Comedy Bootcamp: Top 15 Tips from Sundance’s Comedy ShortsLab: LA". indieWire. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  22. ^ "Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series 2013". Emmys.com. Retrieved July 18, 2013. 
  23. ^ Derogatis, p. 13
  24. ^ a b "The J-Files: Tool: Interview with Kabir Akhtar". Triple J. 1997-04-17. 
  25. ^ a b c "The J-Files: Tool: Interview with Kabir Akhtar". Triple J. 2001-05-17. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  26. ^ a b c "About The Tool Page". The Tool Page (t.d.n). July 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  27. ^ a b c Pettigrew, p. 54.
  28. ^ "Maynard's Car For Sale". The Tool Page (t.d.n). 1997-06-14. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  29. ^ Pettigrew, p. 52.
  30. ^ "TOOL: Links". toolband.com. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  31. ^ "Tool Official Newsletter". Tool. January 1998. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  32. ^ "Tool Official Newsletter". Tool. June 1998. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  33. ^ a b c Bunn, Austin (1998-07-21). "Fanning the Fame". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-03-09. 
  34. ^ "Old News: 1996c". The Tool Page (t.d.n). 1996. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  35. ^ a b "The "Track #1" Fiasco". toolshed.down.net. Retrieved 2006-03-06. 
  36. ^ McIver, p. 137.
  37. ^ "Tool Candy for your Tummy". 1997-04-17. Archived from the original on 2005-03-07. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  38. ^ a b "Tool Fans Alarmed By April Fools' "Joke"". MTV News. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  39. ^ a b Harris, Chris (2005-04-07). "Maynard And Jesus Split: The Conclusion". MTV News. Retrieved 2007-02-14. 
  40. ^ a b "Tool Victim Of Online April Fools' Prank". MTV News. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  41. ^ Pettigrew, p. 51.
  42. ^ a b c Wright, Rickey (July 1997). "Web of Deception". Alternative Press. p. 16. 
  43. ^ Akhtar, Z7.
  44. ^ "Shoutweb 2000 Music Awards". Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  45. ^ "Official Tool Site, Links". Tool. Archived from the original on 2000-11-10. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  46. ^ a b "Tool News: April Fools 1997". The Tool Page (t.d.n). Retrieved 2007-03-29. 
  47. ^ Schachtman, Ben (May 2001). "New Releases – Genre: Grindcore, Band: Tool". University of London Magazine. p. 12. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  48. ^ "April Fools 2001". The Tool Page (t.d.n). Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  49. ^ "April Fools 2005". The Tool Page (t.d.n). Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  50. ^ Travis Hay (2006-05-03). "Tool mesmerizes crowd". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2008-01-18. 
  51. ^ "Old News: 2005". The Tool Page (t.d.n). Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  52. ^ Blake, Blair MacKenzie (2005). "Tool: News". Toolband.com. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  53. ^ "Tour Updates: Tool, Fallout Boy". Spin Magazine. 2007-04-06. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  54. ^ Vedantam, Shankar (2001-09-14). "Finding Personal Ways to Cope With National Trauma". The Washington Post. p. C4. 
  55. ^ Troeh, Eve (2012-04-16). "Los Angeles hosts a 10-mile-long block party". Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  56. ^ Easterbrook, Gregg (2004-09-22). "Tuesday Morning Quarterback". NFL.com. Archived from the original on 2005-01-01. Retrieved 2004-09-22. 
  57. ^ Klein, Julia M. (1984-12-10). "7 Districts, 7 Ways to Teach Gifted". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. M2. 
  58. ^ "Lower Merion Players, 1989 Fall Show". 2008-05-22. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  59. ^ "Lower Merion Players, 1990 Spring Show". 2008-05-22. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  60. ^ "Stimulus Children's Theater: Oh Brother!". 1996-04-15. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  61. ^ "Stimulus Children's Theater: The Phantom Tollbooth". 1995-04-15. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  62. ^ "Stimulus Children's Theater: You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown". 1995-11-15. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  63. ^ see Phares.
  64. ^ "Intuitons Past Boards". Retrieved 2010-02-22.