David Bar Katz

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David Bar Katz
Occupationscreenwriter, playwriter, author, director and philanthropist
Years active1997-present

David Bar Katz is an American screenwriter, playwright, author, director and philanthropist.

Early life[edit]

Katz was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His interest in theater was sparked by stories of his great-grandfather, who was a Yiddish theater producer on the Lower East Side of New York City. Katz attended Chestnut Hill Academy and graduated from the Hun School of Princeton, where in 1985 he founded their modern crew program. He attended Williams College where he was a double-major, receiving a BA in philosophy and religion.[1] Katz was a varsity oarsman at Williams and a member of the 1988 varsity crew which was the first undefeated heavyweight eight in Williams College history. He was also in the 1989 varsity eight that notably defeated Harvard's varsity at the Henley Royal Regatta.[2] Katz was a member of Cap and Bells, at Williams, the oldest continuously running student-run college theater group in the country.

Before embarking on a writing career, Katz was a New York City public school teacher and a theatrical publicist working on Broadway, in the New York cabaret scene (most notably with Rosemary Clooney, Margaret Whiting, Elaine Stritch, Kiki Smith and Harry Belafonte), with the Kirov Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and with numerous Off-Broadway theater companies including E.S.T., INTAR,[3] Manhattan Class Company,[4] AMAS, and the Negro Ensemble Company. Katz was the spokesman for Fiddler on the Roof star Topol when he made the controversial move of temporarily leaving the Broadway revival of the show during the first Gulf War to return to Israel as it was weathering scud missile attacks.[5]


Film and TV[edit]

Katz wrote the movie The Pest,[6] which has gathered a cult following due to its unusual premise. The Houston Chronicle called the film "endearing". The film stars John Leguizamo and Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Bueller's Day Off). Katz did re-writes and dialogue polishes on A Pyromaniac's Love Story, Executive Decision, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar and Spawn.

Katz received an Emmy nomination for the HBO version of Freak directed by Spike Lee, who filmed Katz's stage production.

Katz co-created, wrote and was a supervising producer for the Emmy-nominated FOX television show House of Buggin',[7] the first all-Latino comedy show in network history. House of Buggin' starred John Leguizamo and Luis Guzman. "Characterized by its provocative and unapologetic urban sense of humor, House of Buggin' is a clear reminder that we can do better than the tasteless representations of Latinos that SNL's been passing off as comedy in recent years." -Remezcla.com

Katz and Leguizamo started and ran the production company Lower East Side Film, producing Joe the King (Frank Whaley, Waldo Salt Screenwriting award at the Sundance Film Festival, Gotham Award Nomination), Piñero (ALMA Award winner, Berlin Film Festival award winner, Leon Ichaso, Benjamin Bratt), and Sexaholic ... A Love Story (Emmy nomination). They also set up Esquivel at Fox Searchlight, written by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman (American Splendor, Oscar nominee, The Nanny Diaries, Cinema Verite).

Katz's script The Man Who Couldn't Forget had been in development with producers Sam Raimi (Spider-Man, The Evil Dead) and Josh Donen (Gone Girl, Oz the Great and Powerful) at Columbia Pictures. This project originated when Katz received an Alfred P. Sloan grant to develop a script based on the Alexander Luria case-study The Mind of a Mnemonist.

Katz was also developing a film with SimCity and Spore creator Will Wright at a branch of Sony Pictures.

For Showtime Katz is writing and co-executive producing the half-hour comedy project The Sober Coach from Apostle (Denis Leary's production company) and CBS Television Studios.[8]

At Fox Searchlight Bar Katz is penning a script based on the true story of Clark Rockefeller, a man who took on false identifies for decades, one of which was a Rockefeller. The film is set to be produced by Donald De Line (Green Lantern, Pain and Gain) and directed by Walter Salles (On the Road, The Motorcycle Diaries, Central Station and Dark Water). This project is reportedly far into development. It also on the 2014 Blacklist, a list that honors the best screenplays in Hollywood that have not yet been filmed.

At Universal Pictures Bar Katz is penning a script based on the true story of two FBI agents who throw a fake wedding to arrest world class criminals. Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Bad Words, Horrible Bosses) is attached to direct and star in the film. Bob Cooper (Mr. Woodcock) is producing.

Katz has recently developed film projects for Robert Downey Jr. (Chasing Phil), Bradley Cooper and Todd Phillips (1000 Pounds of Dynamite) and Will Smith (Real). He adapted the comic book Animosity for Legendary Pictures and has written a Suicide Squad script for Warner Bros. with director Gavin O' Connor.

Katz was a Writer and Co-Executive Producer on the final season of the Showtime drama, Ray Donovan. He is currently working with director Zack Snyder on an adaptation of the legendary graphic novel, Black Kiss.


Katz co-wrote and directed the show FREAK[9] starring John Leguizamo at San Francisco's Theater on the Square, The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, Off-Broadway's Atlantic Theater Company and the Cort Theatre on Broadway where it was nominated for two Tony Awards including Best Play. Variety called the play "A tour de force" while the Chicago Tribune calls it "Breathtaking", "Scathingly funny" (Ben Brantley, The New York Times). The show also won a Drama Desk Award for "Best One Man Show".

Katz is a 14 Street Y LABA Fellow. He has directed and developed shows with Julian Fleisher, John Leguizamo and Eliza Jane Schneider (South Park) all at PS 122. He was a participating artist in HomeBase IV, a site-specific installation built around a dozen artists' notions of home. Katz is a member of Israel Horovitz's New York Playwright's Lab.

Katz is a company member of New York City's LAByrinth Theater Company. He has had six plays selected for their annual Barn Series Festival between 2006-2011.

Katz has directed two LAByrinth Theatre Company plays at the Barn Series and one at Live Nude Plays. At the Barn Series Katz directed "Utilities" by Jonathan Marc Sherman ("Knickerbocker", "things we want"). At Live Nude Plays Katz directed Guaranteed Second Base by Michael Puzzo.

At Vineyard Theatre, Katz directed a reading of Kristina Poe's Love Sick. The cast included Elizabeth Canavan (Thinner Than Water), David Zayas ("Dexter"), Stephen Adly Guirgis (The Motherf*cker with the Hat), Danny Mastrogiorgio (The Hallway Trilogy), Cara Akselrad, Maggie Burke and Scott Hudson (Sweet Storm).

At the Williamstown Theater Festival Katz directed a reading of Jonathan Marc Sherman's (Things We Want, Knickerbocker) new play The Squeaky Wheel feat. Justin Long (Dodgeball, Going The Distance).

In an article by Jewish Weekly Katz was compared to David Mamet, "Another Jewish playwright with an equally dark and comic wit.", in the same article artistic director of theatre J, Ari Roth comments " He struck me as someone ... cut from the same cloth as David Mamet.".

LAByrinth Theater Company kicked off its 20th season with Katz's play The Atmosphere of Memory in Fall 2011 at The Bank Street Theater (formerly The Cherry Pit). Pam MacKinnon (Obie Award winner, Lilly Award winner, Clybourne Park, Tony Award winner, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf) will direct the World Premiere production starring Ellen Burstyn and John Glover with Scenic Design by David Gallo (Tony Award winner, The Drowsy Chaperone), Costume Design by Emily Rebholz (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), Lighting Design by Dans Sheehan (Alice The Magnet; Hedda Gabler), and Sound Design by Brendan Connelly (Co-Founder, Obie Award winning Theater of the Two-headed Calf). The New York Times compliments the play for its "Savagely funny dialogue", The New York Post compliments Katz saying his writing is reminiscent of "Vintage Woody Allen" The Post adds, the play is "An excellent new dark comedy.", "Delightfully twisted ... Enjoyable." (Talkin Broadway), "Awitty melodrama, or, alternatively, a moving satire." (Philadelphia Inquirer) and Backstage calls Bar Katz a "Talented Author".[11]

Katz directed the play The Wood written by Dan Klores at the Obie Award winning Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. The play is about Mike McAlary (Viscardi), the larger-than-life columnist for the Daily News and the New York Post and his missionary zeal to ferret out the truth. A Pulitzer Prize winner for his exposé of the New York police torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in 1997, McAlary died of colon cancer on Christmas Day 1998 at the age of 41. The cast will feature John Viscardi, Gregory Bastien, Michael Carlsen, Melanie Charles, David Deblinger, Kim Director, Thomas Kopache, and Sidney Williams. The New York Times praised David Bar Katz's directing as "Clever".[12]

Katz's play Philip Roth in Khartoum was produced by LAByrinth Theater Company and The Public Theater (off Broadway) in 2008. "David Bar Katz is an important, incisive, scary, funny playwright. Always full of surprises." -Eric Bogosian

Other select theater projects include:

Bar Katz was one of the featured artists of LAByrinth Theater Company's series of artist salons, exploring the process artist go through to produce a finished product (The other salons featured muMs and Daphne Rubin-Vega). Katz is in development on a play about poet Delmore Shwartz, the reading portion of the evening featured Yul Vazquez (Tony Award Nominee, The Mother Fucker With the Hat, Captain Phillips) and Parker Posey (Golden Globe Nominee, Superman Returns, Broken English, Independent Spirit Awards Nomination). The project is being developed with Chris Noth (Sex And The City) attached to star.

"Oh, The Power" (Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles). Katz was the guest of honor at "New York Madness", May 12, 2014, at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre. Katz wrote a one-act play "Mothra Vs. The Casting Director". It was first produced at The New Ohio Theatre as part of "Plays that Go Bump in the Night" a series of Halloween-themed one-acts in October 2013. It then was produced at City Theatre in Miami as part of its short play festival. It went on to win "The National Award for Short Playwriting".

His play The History of Invulnerability, about Jerry Siegel, the Holocaust and the creation of Superman, was produced by Cincinnati's Tony Award winning Playhouse in the Park in the spring of 2010 and directed by Michael Haney. "More incredible than the Hulk, more amazing than Spider-Man, that's "The History of Invulnerability", a consideration of The Man of Steel, his co-creator Jerry Siegel and Truth, Justice and the America Way. "Invulnerability" is going to be the spring season's buzz show." (Jackie Demaline, The Cincinnati Enquirer) "Katz has X-ray vision to see into the human soul, and his powerful play should be required viewing." (Rick Pender, Cincinnati CityBeat) "A sensation ... Katz creates a fantastic biography of Jerry Siegel, the co-creator of Superman, to explore the roots of art and its relationship to the world." (Demaline, Cincinnati.com)
"The History of Invulnerability was presented at Washington DC's Theater J in Spring 2012. The Washingtonian said the play "Leap[s] across an impressive array of thought-provoking issues in a single bound ... a super achievement.", "Dynamic ... Intriguing ... Powerful ... Tremendous ... Fun"(DC Metro Theatre Arts), "Invulnerability zips through Jerry Siegel's life faster than a speeding bullet, has the emotional strength of a locomotive, and can take you to the top of a tall building and slam you back down again in a single bound. Don't miss this thrilling (and chilling) epic." (MD Theatre Guide), "Wholly Absorbing" (Washington City Paper), "Profound, even brilliant ... Profoundly moving ... The History of Invulnerability speaks to the troubled yearnings of the human soul." (DC Theatre Scene). "The History of Invulnerability" was also produced in spring 2014 at Miluawke Rep on the mainstage. The Express Miluawke calls the play "spectacular" adding "The Milwaukee Repertory Theater closes its 60th season with David Bar Katz' brilliant play ... Production values could leap tall buildings in Mark Clements' immersive visual and audio environment ... The spectacular production is well worth seeing.","This is a fantastic production and one I can't recommend highly enough. See it. The script by David Bar Katz is a powerful piece of writing ... a fascinating journey ... Incredibly staged." (The Countyist), "Visually delightful" (The Examiner). The History of Invulnerability was also produced at Minnesota Jewish Theatre in the spring of 2014, Dir. by Hayley Finn (Cherry Lane), "Intimate ... Engrossing ... Rich ... Strong." (City Pages).

The History of Invulnerability won the Acclaim Award for Outstanding Play of the Year[13] and the Cincinnati Entertainment Award for Outstanding Premiere.[14]

Katz received the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Citation recognizing The History of Invulnerability as one of the top three American plays of 2010. In a 2011 article Backstage mentions "The History of Invulnerability", saying the play has "Deservedly won several awards".

Katz currently heads The American Playwriting Foundation which administers The Relentless Award, in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Ethan Hawke, a Relentless Award Artistic Advisor has said, "Phil Hoffman was relentless in his pursuit of the truth and in his desire that art should not have one lie in it. The Relentless Award strives to continue Phil's legacy and impact on theater by supporting playwrights that embody his Relentlessness."

Personal life[edit]

David Bar Katz is the father of four sons, the second youngest of whom, Kal Lev Katz, is an artist and aspiring television and film director. Katz's eldest son, Morris Akiba Katz is a political advisor. Katz was a longtime friend of Philip Seymour Hoffman, and was the one who found him on February 2, 2014.[15] Katz was the victim of a hoax after Hoffman's death. The Enquirer published an article based on information provided by a man falsely claiming to be Katz, that Hoffman and Katz were lovers and that Katz gave him narcotics. Neither was true, so Katz sued, and it was settled two days later when The Enquirer issued a full page apology in The New York Times. Katz wished to honor Hoffman, rather than gain anything for himself, and so used the settlement money to form the American Playwriting Foundation, which administers The Relentless Award, an annual prize of $45,000 for an un-produced play awarded in Hoffman's honor.[16] The award has become one of the most impactful in American Theater, launching many acclaimed plays, including The Wolves, Dance Nation and Is God Is. According to The New York Times, “People on the lookout for fierce talent and boldly adventuresome plays have learned to take a cue from the Relentless Award.”


  1. ^ "Williams College Department of Philosophy: Alumni List 1986 - 2003". Williams.edu. Archived from the original on 2008-12-26. Retrieved 2011-01-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Henley Royal Regatta | Rowing pictures and photos by Sportgraphics". Sportgraphics.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2011-01-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Willis, John (1994). Theatre World 1991-1992 - Google Books. ISBN 9781557831439. Retrieved 2011-01-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ The Ridiculous Theatrical Company. Lortel.org. Archived from the original on 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2011-01-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ USA Today, Life Section, January 28, 1991,
  6. ^ "Bach Movie - The Pest". Bach-cantatas.com. 2007-11-21. Retrieved 2011-01-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "House of Buggin'" – via www.imdb.com.
  8. ^ Rose, Lacey (2011-06-20). "Showtime Buys 'Sober Coach' Script from David Bar Katz". hollywoodreporter.com.
  9. ^ Alterman, Glenn (September 2005). Creating Your Own Monologue - Google Books. ISBN 9781581154290. Retrieved 2011-01-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "LAByrinth Theater Company - Past Productions". Labtheater.org. Archived from the original on 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2011-01-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Vincentelli, Elisabeth (2011-10-31). "'Memory' worth holding onto". New York Post.
  12. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Creative Team Announced For Labyrinth's THE ATMOSPHERE OF MEMORY". BroadwayWorld.com.
  13. ^ "Acclaim Awards: Long Night of Tribute". Citybeat.com. Retrieved 2011-01-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "2010 CEA Theater Nominees". Citybeat.com. 2010-07-07. Retrieved 2011-01-22. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ Selby, Jenn. "Philip Seymour Hoffman dead: Last months of actor's life paint a private struggle to cope with the breakdown of his personal life". The Independent. 3 February 2014. '"I saw him last week, and he was clean and sober, his old self," David Bar Katz, the playwright and friend who found Hoffman lying on his bathroom floor in a T-shirt and a pair of shorts, told The New York Times yesterday. "I really thought this chapter was over."'
  16. ^ Dwyer, Jim (February 25, 2014). "Truth and a Prize Emerge From Lies About Hoffman" – via NYTimes.com.

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