Mitchell Kriegman

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Mitchell Kriegman
Born (1952-06-04) June 4, 1952 (age 62)
Richmond, Virginia
Other names Marshall Klugman
Alma mater Bennington College
Occupation Writer, director, producer, songwriter, actor, educator
Known for

Mitchell Kriegman (born June 4, 1952) is a three-time Emmy Award winning American director, writer, producer, filmmaker, and novelist. Kriegman's innovative content for film and television has been called groundbreaking;[1] his work has earned over a dozen Emmy nominations and a Directors Guild award.[2]

Kriegman is the creator of Clarissa Explains It All (1991) for Nickelodeon, Bear in the Big Blue House (1997), The Book of Pooh (2001) for the Disney Channel and It's a Big Big World (2006) for PBS.[3]

Kriegman may be best known as the creator and executive producer of Clarissa Explains It All, starring Melissa Joan Hart. Kriegman's first novel was Being Audrey Hepburn (2014),[4] the story set in motion by Hepburn's iconic black dress from the 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.[5] A second novel, Things I Can't Explain, is a reimagining of the protagonist in the Clarissa Explains It All television series, in her twenties, and is scheduled for publication in November 2015.[6]

Kriegman holds patents for a method of hybrid animation, known as Shadowmation, which combines high-definition virtual-environments with puppets and animatronics, composited and rendered in real time. The production technique was implemented in The Book of Pooh and It's a Big Big World.[7]

Education[edit]

Kriegman attended Bennington College, in Bennington, Vermont, earning a BA, in Literature (1974).[8]

Kriegman has taught webseries development and production and sitcom writing at Stony Brook Southampton,[9] lectures at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) at the Bren Center and Carsey Wolf Center,[10][11] and is an adjunct professor at SMARTlab, University College Dublin (UCD) School of Education, Dublin, Ireland.[2]

Early career[edit]

Kriegman began his career as a writer, video-artist and performance-artist, under the pseudonym Marshall Klugman. An Evening of Stories and Tricks You Won’t See Anywhere, was performed at Dance Theater Workshop in New York City and surrounding venues. His video work of this period includes, The Marshall Klugman Show (1975) which aired on WNET television.[12] As a short story writer, his work has been published in The New Yorker, Between C & D, the National Lampoon, Glamour, George Meyer's Army Man magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.[2][3][13]

The Telephone Stories (1979) is Kriegman's series of audio-plays for the telephone, one of the first installations of dial-in art.[14] In addition to being available on a special phone-line,[14] The Telephone Stories toured museums and galleries around the country, including the High Museum and The Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, after premiering at the Whitney Museum, as the department's first audio-only offering.[15][16][17][18] Kriegman wrote and acted in Operation X segments with Teddy Dibble, for the PBS Series Alive from Off Center, which have been featured in the Walker Art Center and The Paley Center exhibits.[19] During this period Kriegman collaborated with Bart Friedman and Nancy Cain of Videofreex on several pieces including "Turkey Dinner" (1982),[20] a precursor to his full length My Neighborhood, funded by the American Film Institute,[9] which aired on WNET/13, and featured a sad sack Kriegman gleefully greeting everyone in his neighborhood, who all ignore him.[21]

Kriegman joined Saturday Night Live(SNL) in 1980 (season 6), as a performer, writer and filmmaker. During his time there, he made three films including The Dancing Man with Bill Irwin,[22] Heart to Heart, and Someone is Hiding in My Apartment.[17][23] He appeared in the sketches "Blame The Kids" and "Virgin Search".[24] He was also a contributor to SNL writer–performer Michael O'Donohue's, Mr. Mike's Mondo Video (1979), which included Kriegman's shorts, "Cleavage" and "This is a Man in a Dog Suit".[24] A third piece, "The Dancing Belly Button", was not shown on NBC, but was included in the Anthology Film Archives collection.[25]

Career[edit]

In a 2014 interview, Kriegman reflected upon how the options for entertainment writers in New York during the 1980s was somewhat limited to comedy and children's genres, which resulted to some of the writers for Saturday Night Live also writing for Sesame Street.[4] After leaving Saturday Night Live his work turned markedly toward children's and young adult television programming.

Mouseterpiece Theater (1983), hosted by George Plimpton, was directed by Kriegman and co-written with Robert Cunniff for The Disney Channel; the show was a spoof on Alistair Cooke's, Masterpiece Theatre, but instead of presenting serious works in film, Plimpton would introduce Disney cartoons.[26] Further immersion into writing for children's television programming came from HBO's Encyclopedia (1988),[27] and ALF Tales in 1988.[28]

Prior to the merger that created Comedy Central in 1991, Kriegman produced the cult hit, The Sweet Life (1989) with Rachel Sweet,[29] and a sketch-comedy program called, Higgins Boys and Gruber (1989) starring Dave "Gruber" Allen, David Anthony Higgins and Steve Higgins for The Comedy Channel.[30]

Moving to Nickelodeon, Kriegman became involved in the writing and development of Nicktoons, the network's first animated programming. Nicktoons included: Doug (1991), a first person narrative of the interactions of the fictional adolescent, Douglas "Doug" Funnie; Rugrats (1991), which won four daytime Emmys and features the spoken interactions of a group of preschoolers; and The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991), starring a psychotic-sadistic chihuahua (Ren), and his doltish but ever-faithful friend, Stimpy the cat. Kriegman was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for The Ren & Stimpy Show in 1992.[31]Rocko's Modern Life was added to the animated programming in 1993.[30] On the twentieth anniversary of Nicktoons, The Atlantic released an article titled, "The Genius of 'Doug,' 'Rugrats,' and 'Ren & Stimpy,' 20 Years Later", highlighting the role of these shows in the evolution of children's television programming.[32]

Kriegman's most notable contribution at Nickelodeon is as the creator and executive producer of Clarissa Explains It All (1991), starring Melissa Joan Hart. Clarissa, a smart early-teen unconfined by gender stereotypes with a wide variety of interests, routinely breaks the Fourth wall, speaking directly to the television audience to set up a story-line or espouse an opinion. Clarissa Explains It All identified a preteen genre (tweens) and was the first sitcom for kids with a female-lead that was watched equally by both genders.[33] The show also featured paintbox graphics, animation and fantasies.[34] The series ran for four seasons and Kriegman was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 1994, for Outstanding Children's Program.[31] CBS commissioned a pilot for a Clarissa sequel, continuing her story as a young working age adult, but it was never aired.[1] The end result was that the pilot was not picked up.[35]

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree (1995), narrated by Kermit the Frog,[36] and Twisted Puppet Theater (1996), had Kriegman writing for puppet characters.[37] Kriegman created the Emmy Award-winning television series, Bear in the Big Blue House (1997), and created and directed, The Book of Pooh (2001), based on the Milne books, both in association with the Disney Channel.[38] Cast with bunraku puppets, both series employed Kriegman's shadowmation technique.[39] The Book of Pooh ran for three seasons. After a hiatus, Bear in the Big Blue House production concluded with the 2007-08 season. Kriegman again wrote for Sesame Street puppet characters in the feature film, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999), co-written with Joey Mazzarino, and produced by the The Jim Henson Company.[37]

Kriegman is the creator, executive producer and co-director of It's a Big Big World (2006) which aired on PBS Kids, presented in shadowmation. Written for preschoolers, It's a Big Big World is a mixture of animation and of life-sized puppets. The main character is an energetic, but deliberately slow and methodical sloth named Snook. With the shadowmation filming process, the puppeteers perform animal-based characters and have the ability to interact with computer-generated virtual environments. The theme is geared toward environmental-education and teaching life-sciences. It's a Big Big World is set in the "World Tree", a metaphor for the Earth, where animals coexist peacefully.[40][41] The final season of It's a Big Big World was delivered in 2010.[citation needed]

As of 2015, Kriegman is a novelist, publishing with St. Martin's Press, he is also an instructor and guest-lecturer, living in the Southern California area,[9][11] and an adjunct professor at the University College Dublin.[2] Kriegman's second novel, Things I Can't Explain, based on the central character in Clarissa Explains it All, is set for publication later in 2015.[6]

Filmography[edit]

Kriegman’s video-art works are in the Castelli-Sonnebend collection,[42] as well as the Paley Center,[43][44][45][46] Museum of Modern Art (MoMA),[47][48] The Kitchen Center,[17] and the London Institute of Contemporary Arts among others.[42]

Television credits[edit]

Feature film credits[edit]

Awards[edit]

Kriegman has won three Daytime Emmy Awards and has been nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards,[31] he is the winner of the Directors Guild of America Award (1999),[53] and has been nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award.[54] Bear in the Big Blue House (1997) garnered him two Emmys for Best Direction (in 2000 and 2002), as well as the Directors Guild Award in 1999, and an additional nomination in 2000.[53] His work on The Book of Pooh (2001) was recognized with a Best Direction Emmy in 2002. Other awards include three Parents Choice awards for Clarissa Explains It All (1991),[55] "Clarissa and Peter and the Wolf", and the UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence for Bear in the Big Blue House, and for The Book of Pooh.[56] It's a Big Big World (2006) received a Webby award,[57] two Emmy Nominations and two Environmental Media Award nominations.[58]

Writing[edit]

Kriegman has contributed works to The New Yorker,[60] the National Lampoon, Glamour magazine, and Harper's Bazaar.[3] Kriegman currently writes for the Santa Barbara Independent[61] and the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB).[62]

Books[edit]

Screenwriting[edit]

As a screenwriter, Kriegman has written for Universal, Disney and Columbia Pictures. He also wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999) with Joey Mazzarino, which was a co-production with Sesame Workshop, The Jim Henson Company and Columbia Pictures, as well as the script for the Bear in the Big Blue House.

Music[edit]

Kriegman is credited on, Peter and the Wolf (1994), a Clarissa narrated version of the Sergei Prokofiev classic, featuring Clarissa & The Straightjackets. His additional songwriting credits are included in the collections: Songs from the Book of Pooh (2002) with Disney, including the closing theme with Brian Woodbury. For the Bear in the Big Blue House series, Kriegman's music credits include: Songs from Jim Henson's Bear in the Big Blue House (2000), More Songs from Bear in the Big Blue House (2002), Bear's Holiday Celebration (2002) and Greatest Hits (2005).[63]

Innovation[edit]

Further information: Shadowmation

Kriegman is credited with the patented design of the hybrid special-effects technique called Shadowmation, that combines live action puppets, animatronics, and computer animation utilizing video game engines and virtual environments.[7][40][41][64] He holds a variety of patents for hybrid animation technologies.[65]

References[edit]

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  5. ^ a b "Being Audrey Hepburn". GoodReads. Retrieved 17 December 2014. A Novel by Mitchell Kriegman 
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  9. ^ a b c "About the 20/20/20 Film Program". Stony Brook Southampton. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015. In 2011 and 2012 we offered courses in DIY digital filmmaking, led by Emmy Award winning writer director Mitchell Kriegman. 
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  11. ^ a b Lee, Erika (7 November 2014). "Mitchell Kriegman to Come to Discuss "Finding Your Voice in TV"". Daily Nexus. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015. To sum it all up, it’s going to be a four-part event at I.V. Theater: a screening, talk, book signing and Q&A session — a recipe for an awesome night. Whether you’re a young college student who dreams of making it big in Hollywood, but doesn’t know where to start or just somebody curious about the dazzling and mysterious world of showbusiness, you will definitely be in for an intriguing night with the jack-of-all-trades, Mitchell Kriegman. 
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    US 09/782,329. Publication date, Apr 24, 2007.
     

External links[edit]