Burns in 2008
|Birth name||Steven Michael Burns|
|Also known as||Steve|
October 9, 1973 |
Boyertown, Pennsylvania, United States
|Genres||Pop rock, Indie rock, Alternative rock|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, keyboards|
|Labels||PIAS Recordings, Columbia|
|Associated acts||Blue's Clues, The Flaming Lips, Steve Burns & The Struggle|
Steven Michael Burns was born in rural Pennsylvania, in Boyertown. He played in bands called Sudden Impact US, Nine Pound Truck, and the Ivys (which he has called a "Morrissey rip-off band") while in high school and college. He studied theatre under an acting scholarship at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley. He quit school and moved to New York City to become a professional actor. He lived in a basement apartment near Times Square, finding his first success as a voice-over artist for ads and making appearances on Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order.
In 1995, Burns auditioned for Blue's Clues, thinking it was another voice-over role. He had long hair and an earring. "I was a bit of a skate rat," he said. Initially, the Nickelodeon executives were not supportive of Burns hosting their new show; in subsequent auditions the show's creators requested that he dress more conservatively. (Burns reported that the creators, in a call-back phone conversation, asked him, "Could you not look like you tomorrow morning?") It became apparent, however, that he was the favorite with preschool test audiences. Executive producer and co-creator Traci Paige Johnson reported that of the 100 people they auditioned, Burns was "the realest". As Dr. Alice Wilder, Nickelodeon's Director of Research and Development said, "[T]here was just something about this kid, who was fresh out of Pennsylvania, who just knew where to look in the camera to really talk to kids. He was just right."
From its premiere, Blue's Clues was an instant hit, due to Burns' performances as much as the show's format. He became "a superstar" among his audience and their parents, but unknown to everyone else, and enjoyed what he called being a "micro-celebrity, about as small a celebrity as you can be." As the New York Times reported, he "developed an avid following among both preteen girls and mothers. The former send torrents of e-mail; the latter scrutinize the show with an intensity that might make even Elmo, the red Muppet, blush." In 2000, People magazine included Burns in their annual list of America's most eligible bachelors. According to writer Diane Tracy, Burns was "destined for the part". Also according to Tracy, Burns was not the typical children's television host: "There is nothing syrupy about him—his humor is sometimes borderline offbeat, but never inappropriate for preschoolers."
Burns became "very involved" with the production of Blue's Clues from the beginning. One of the most challenging aspects of being the host of the show was performing in front of the "blue screen" before the animation was added. Burns called it "maddening" and likened it to "acting at the bottom of a swimming pool."
After six years and over 100 shows, Burns departed Blue's Clues in 2002. His role in the show "was beginning to chafe" after five years and he left to pursue a music career. Johnson said that "what made Burns a great children's host was that 'he didn't want to be a children's host ... He loved kids, but he didn't want to make a career out of it.'" Burns himself stated, tongue-in-cheek, "I knew I wasn't gonna be doing children's television all my life, mostly because I refused to lose my hair on a kid's TV show, and it was happenin' — fast." The day after he finished filming his final episode of the show, he shaved his head, something he wanted to do for many years, but the show's producers would not let him.
Burns' departure caused a resurface of the rumors that had circulated about him since 1998. As Burns said, "The rumor mill surrounding me has always been really strange." These "specious claims" included dying from a heroin overdose, being run over by a car, and being replaced, like Paul McCartney of the Beatles was rumored to have been, by a look-alike. Some viewers claimed that "clues" regarding Burns' demise were placed within the show. Burns made an appearance on The Rosie O'Donnell Show to dispute these rumors, and he and co-creator Angela Santomero appeared on Today to help parents assuage the fears of children who might have heard the rumors.
Music and film career
Burns worked on material for his first album, Songs for Dustmites, for two and a half years at a small studio in his home in Brooklyn before it was produced by PIAS Records in late 2002. He started work on the album after he left Blue's Clues in 2002, and it was later released in 2003. He posted eleven songs on his webpage, and then realizing he needed help with drums and arrangements went to Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips for advice. Drozd assisted Burns with six tracks, Lips bassist Michael Ivins engineered the album, and longtime Lips producer David Fridmann produced it.
Burns started a band, Steve Burns and the Struggle, and completed his second album, Deep Sea Recovery Efforts, which was released in 2009. Members of the Struggle include Drozd and Ryan Smith of A Million Billion.
Burns acted in the 2006 horror-comedy film Netherbeast Incorporated with Darrell Hammond and Dave Foley, playing the part of a vampire. In 2008, he played an astronaut in Christmas on Mars, a science fiction film from The Flaming Lips. In March 2012, he appeared in the YouTube comedy series The Professionals.
- "Biography for Steve Burns". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2007-12-18.
- D'Angelo, Joe (2002-04-30). "Ex-'Blue's Clues' host Steve Burns an indie rocker at heart". MTV.com. Retrieved 2007-12-18.
- Iovine, Julie V. (1999-11-18). "At home with--Steven Burns; A few clues in Brooklyn". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-11.
- Norris, Chris (2004-02-09). "Me and you and a dog named Blue". Spin Magazine. Retrieved 2007-12-18.
- Jim Forbes (narrator) (2006-07-27). Behind the clues: 10 years of Blue (Short documentary). Nickelodeon.
- "Questions and answers: Steve Burns". Newsweek. 2000-07-08. Retrieved 2009-01-12.
- Tracy, Diane (2002). Blue's Clues for Success: The 8 Secrets Behind a Phenomenal Business. New York: Kaplan Publishing. p. 46. ISBN ISBN 079315376X.
- Kiesewetter, John (2002-04-29). "'Blue's Clues' puts on new host, new shirts". The Enquirer. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
- Mifflin, Lawrie (1997-08-03). "The joy of repetition, repetition, repetition". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
- Burns, Steve. "Frequently asked questions". Steve's Webpage.com. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
- D'Angelo, Joe (2002-04-30). "Ex-'Blue's Clues' host Steve Burns an Indie rocker at heart". MTV. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- On the FAQ section of his webpage, when asked why he shaved his head and if he was "making a statement", Burns responded, "Yes, the statement is, 'We have male pattern baldness.'"
- Mikkelson, Barbara (2007-08-05). "Demise and shine". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
- Harris, Chris (2007-11-02). "Former 'Blue's Clues' host Steve Burns: Still not dead". MTV. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
- Steve Burns on Twitter
- Steve Burns at the Internet Movie Database
- Steve Burns (and The Struggle) at MySpace
- Burns discusses his Blue's Clue experience on an episode of "The Moth Presents"