Kabir Akhtar

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Kabir Akhtar (born January 11, 1975) is an American television director and editor, who won an Emmy Award in 2016.

Akhtar is also the creator of The Tool Page [1], the oldest website about the band Tool. He ran the website (also known as "toolshed") from 1994 to 2016; it predated many popular sites, including mainstays Google, YouTube, and Yahoo!.[1][2][3] Akhtar was an early innovator on the web, and gained some notoriety for being the source of several April Fools' Day pranks.


Akhtar's credits include work for Arrested Development, New Girl, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Behind the Music, and the Academy Awards. He has edited ten pilots which were made into series, including Speechless and Alex, Inc. He also directed the pilot episodes of the MTV series 8th & Ocean and the relaunched edition of Unsolved Mysteries.[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]

Akhtar later 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. That season saw Akhtar earn a second Emmy nomination and begin work on New Girl. Two seasons later, he became a producer/editor on the musical comedy series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which garnered him a third Emmy nomination and an Emmy win for cutting the pilot episode. He went on to direct multiple episodes of the series as a director-producer. [17][18][19][20][21]

In addition to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences panel, Akhtar has also been a featured speaker at events held by the Directors Guild of America, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, SAG-AFTRA, Avid, 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." [22] In 2018, he was a panelist at SXSW.


Year Award Category Work Result
2012 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Picture Editing For Short-Form Segments And Variety Specials 84th Academy Awards
Opening Film
2013 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series[23] Arrested Development
"Flight of the Phoenix"
2014 A.C.E Eddie Awards Best Edited Half-Hour Series for Television Arrested Development
"Flight of the Phoenix"
2016 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series[24] Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
"Josh Just Happens To Live Here!" (Pilot)
2018 A.C.E Eddie Awards Best Edited Comedy Series for Commercial Television Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
"Josh's Ex-Girlfriend Wants Revenge"

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.[25][26][27] 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][27][28][29]

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.[30] When Akhtar created a section of the site for fans to discuss their interpretations of Tool's dense lyrics, Keenan became an occasional reader.[31] Their association led to the band acknowledging Akhtar's work on their official site, and begat the site's description as "semi-official." [32][33][34][35]

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.[36]

That same year, MTV renamed Tool's music video "Stinkfist" due to offensive connotations, and the lyrics of the song were altered.[37][38] Akhtar encouraged fans to contact MTV and complain about the censorship. In response to the overwhelming number 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.[29][37]

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. [26][27][39]

In addition to being reviewed or cited numerous times in the media (in the New York Post,[29] MTV,[40][41][42] The Village Voice,[35] Alternative Press [43][44][45]), 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.[28][46][47] Although some of these sites are now defunct, these awards demonstrate a significant presence in the early days of the online music scene.

On May 2, 2016, Akhtar announced that the site would no longer be updated but would remain available indefinitely as a resource for fans.[48] The site was actively maintained for nearly twenty years.

April Fools' Day pranks[edit]

Akhtar posted an April Fools' Day prank to The Tool Page every year from 1997 to 2009, and again in 2011. Although he gained a reputation for writing a fake post annually, some of his posts were 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.[49]

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.[40][44] The following day, MTV began running hourly on-air updates debunking the claim.[35] 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.[49]

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][42] 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.[28][44]

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.[50][51] 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. [52] Tool announced that "Maynard has found Jesus" and that he would be abandoning the recording of the next Tool album possibly permanently.[53] 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.[41] 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.[54][55]

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.[56]

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][57]

Akhtar is a cyclist, and was interviewed on Marketplace discussing the Los Angeles Ciclavia event.[58] He is also a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, and has been a guest on Bleeding Green Radio and has been quoted on NFL.com.[59][60]

By the time he was nine years old, the state of Pennsylvania had recognized him as having "outstanding intellectual and creative ability." [61] 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.[62][63][64][65][66]

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.[67] He also was elected to the Board of Governors of the Intuitons Experimental Theater company.[68]


  • Pettigrew, Jason (March 1997). "Nobody's Tool". Alternative Press. Retrieved 2007-04-08.
  • Derogatis, Jim (1997). "Tool". Lollapalooza Magazine / Program. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  • McIver, Joel (2002). Nu-Metal: The Next Generation of Rock and Punk. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0711992092.
  • Akhtar, Kabir (2001-07-16). "The Tool FAQ". The Tool Page (t.d.n).
  • Tomorrow, Eric (2006-10-06). "Interview with Kabir Akhtar". The Mediocre Show.
  • Phares, Jamie (1995-12-05). "Students use Christmas lights to start rivalry in Superblock". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved 2008-09-09.


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