Peter Sagal

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Peter Daniel Sagal[1]
Kyle-cassidy-peter-sagal-1.jpg
Sagal in 2012
Born (1965-01-31) January 31, 1965 (age 56)
Alma materHarvard University (B.A)
OccupationHumorist, writer, radio host
Known forHost of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!
Notable work
Denial (play), The Book of Vice

Peter Daniel Sagal (born January 31,[3] 1965)[4] is an American humorist, writer, and host of the National Public Radio game show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! and the PBS special Constitution USA with Peter Sagal.

Early life, family and education[edit]

Sagal was raised in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, son of Matthew and Reeva Sagal.[5] Matthew was a telecommunications executive, and Reeva was a schoolteacher who became a stay-at-home mother.[6]

Sagal is a 1987 graduate of Harvard College,[5][6] where a college roommate was future Wall Street Journal correspondent Jess M. Bravin.[7] Together, they entered a competition to write the Hasty Pudding production and were selected to develop their script "Between the Sheiks".[7] Peter studied English literature at Harvard.[5] While there he wrote and directed other student theater productions.[6] He also spent a summer as a journalist for Cycle, a now defunct motorcycle magazine.[8]

Career[edit]

After graduating from Harvard, Sagal pursued several different occupations, all connected to the theater or writing. While living in Los Angeles, he appeared as a contestant on the game show Jeopardy! in April 1988, in which he placed second.[9]

Sagal then moved to New York to pursue a theater writing career[6] In 1998, he moved to the Chicago area, when he became the host of NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! news quiz program.[6]

He was literary manager for the now-defunct Los Angeles Theater Center,[6] a stage director, an actor, a playwright and a screenwriter, and an extra in a Michael Jackson video. He has also been a journalist, an essayist,[10][11][12] a humorist,[11] a travel writer,[12][13] and an author.[14]

Playwright[edit]

Sagal has written several plays that have been performed across the United States and internationally.[12][13] Some have also been performed as radio plays or podcasts. For instance, Sagal's plays have been performed at:[15][12][13][16][17]

Sagal's plays include:[17]

  • Denial – A Jewish lawyer defends the free speech rights of a Holocaust denier.
  • Most Wanted – A comedy in which retired grandparents flee to Florida with baby granddaughter
  • Kim's Sister
  • What to Say
  • Real Time
  • Mall America – The aftermath of terror at Minnesota's famous mall[18]
  • Milton Bradley (a podcast play) – a rabbi must eulogize a mother whose son can only say terrible things about her.[19]

Sagal has been awarded fellowships and grants, and commissioned by stage companies to write plays. These include:[15][12][13][16]

Screenwriter[edit]

Sagal has written screenplays,[20] one for a 1996 science fiction / martial arts thriller, Savage, another for Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, a 2004 sequel to the original Dirty Dancing, adapted from his screenplay Cuba Mine,[13][16] which Sagal said bears little resemblance to the poorly received film.[8]

Television writer[edit]

Sagal has also written for television shows including,

  • Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!: A Royal Pain in the News (TV Movie 2011)
  • Wait Wait Don't Tell Me Live! (TV Movie 2013)
  • Constitution USA with Peter Sagal (2013)

The two Wait Wait movies are based on the weekly NPR/WBEZ Chicago news quiz radio program which Sagal hosts.

Actor[edit]

Sagal on his "We the People" Harley Davidson motorcycle at the National Archives during filming for Constitution USA with Peter Sagal

Sagal voiced Clown's Joy in the 2015 animated movie Inside Out

He appeared as himself in the "Pay Pal" episode of the animated television series The Simpsons. In that episode characters Lisa and Tumi listened to an episode of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! featuring Sagal and announcer Carl Kasell.

Sagal has appeared in three television specials based on his radio show: Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! (2008), Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!: A Royal Pain in the News (2011), and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me Live! (2013).

Sagal has appeared as himself in documentaries. These include:

Journalist[edit]

A runner of marathons, Sagal writes the Road Scholar column for Runner's World magazine.[26][27] He has also written for The New York Times Magazine,[28][19][29] the Chicago Tribune,[19][29] the Houston Chronicle,[19][29] and Time magazine.[30]

Sagal and the Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! team contributed a feature called Sandwich Monday to The Salt, NPR's food blog. For five years, each Monday the Wait Wait team ate a new and different kind of sandwich for lunch. Then one of the team members would write a tongue-in-cheek blog post describing the food.[31] Sandwiches included Fritos-topped Papa John's pizza,[31] latke double-down,[31] Passover Sandwich,[32] and Burger King's YUMBO.[33]

Author[edit]

In the early 1990s while he was living in Minneapolis, Sagal was hired to ghostwrite an autobiography of the 1970s pornography director Gail Palmer.[6][15][16] Sagal discovered that Palmer did not direct the pornography movies attributed to her, and that she was a front for her pornographer boyfriend.[6] Peter wrote the book anyway. However, Palmer did not approve of the manuscript, and it has not been published.[6]

In October 2007 HarperCollins published Sagal's The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them).[6][28] In the book Sagal revisits the Gail Palmer incident and indicates that his exposure to the porn industry led to his writing Book of Vice.[6] Publishers Weekly called Book of Vice, "a hilarious, harmlessly prurient look at the banality of regular people’s strange and wicked pleasures".[34]

Awards and honors[edit]

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me![edit]

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! was designed as a weekly satirical look at the week's news in a quiz format.[20] The host of the show was to be a comedian named Dan Coffey[7] who would quiz panelists, celebrity guests and non-celebrity callers. The show debuted in January 1998[7][13] but had a rocky start. The producers replaced Coffey with Sagal in May 1998.[7][13]

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! has become one of the most popular shows on NPR. The radio program is heard weekly by nearly three million listeners on 520 public radio stations nationwide.[13][37] The Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! podcast is also heard by a million people every month.[13][37] In 2008 Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! was awarded a 2007 Peabody Award "For offering a droll, light-hearted alternative to both news and the cottage industry of punditry that surrounds it..."[38]

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! has not been without controversy. For instance, Sagal attempted a joke about a Diocese of Brooklyn Christmas ad depicting a young woman taking a selfie with a picture of Jesus. He asked why Jesus did not just take the picture for her, and answered "His hands were occupied." Critics including Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and Dallas First Baptist Church senior pastor Robert Jeffress called the joke blasphemous and accused Sagal specifically and the secular media in general of mocking Christianity. O'Reilly stated that if Sagal's comment was salacious he should be fired. When asked about the incident, NPR President and CEO Jarl Mohn said, "[T]he show's goal is to poke fun at the news and make people laugh" and he "regrets that we didn't succeed in this case."[39]

Personal life[edit]

Sagal was married and then divorced in 2013. [26] He has since married again; in shows of early 2021, he was congratulated on the birth of their child.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Who's Bill This Time?". Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!. Chicago IL: NPR. February 6, 2021. Retrieved February 6, 2021. I'm Bill Kurtis. And here's your host, a man whose middle name is not danger, Peter Daniel Sagal.
  2. ^ "Peter Sagal". VPR. Colchester VT: Vermont Public Radio. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  3. ^ Sagal, Peter [@petersagal] (January 31, 2020). "It's my birthday!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  4. ^ Deuchler, Douglas (2013). Legendary Locals of Oak Park. Arcadia Publishing. p. 97. ISBN 978-1467100861.
  5. ^ a b c Kaplan, Ron (July 13, 2006). "NJ native hosts game show with twist of the news". New Jersey Jewish News. Archived from the original on September 20, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k McKeough, Kevin (October 17, 2007). "The New Vice President". Chicago Magazine. Chicago Tribune Media Group. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e Scuderi, Benjamin M. (May 23, 2012). "Peter D. Sagal". The Harvard Crimson. The Harvard Crimson Inc. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Live Wire 257 Encore: Peter Sagal, Chelsea Cain, Eef Barzelay". LiveWireRadio.org. Live Wire! Radio. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  9. ^ "Peter Sagal". J!Archive. Archived from the original on November 15, 2011. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  10. ^ Stein, Anne (December 21, 2008). "Celebrity Traveler: Peter Sagal 'Wait, Wait,' while Peter Sagal tells us". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Distinguished Lecture Series welcomes peter sagal". Wisconsin Union. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Archived from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Peter Sagal". The Dinner Party with Elysabeth Alfano. The Dinner Party. March 11, 2013. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Peter Sagal". JoCoCruise. JoCoCruise. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  14. ^ ""The Art of Telling a Joke" with Peter Sagal". Wisconsin Union. University of Wisconsin-Madison. October 2016. Archived from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c d "Peter Sagal Host of Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!". NPR. National Public Radio. Archived from the original on January 19, 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d e f "Peter Sagal". WNPO.org. New Orleans Public Radio. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h "Peter Sagal". Dramatic Publishing. Dramatic Publishing. Archived from the original on April 19, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  18. ^ Favre, Jeff (April 6, 2005). "Mall America". backstage.com. Backstage. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  19. ^ a b c d "Peter Sagal: Milton Bradley". Playing On Air. Playing On Air. December 15, 2014. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  20. ^ a b "PAMC's Feature Speaker: Peter Sagal". www.iavm.org. International Association of Venue Managers. December 6, 2016. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  21. ^ Public Programs Staff (May 2, 2013). "Featured Project Constitution USA With Peter Sagal". National Endowment for the Humanities: Division of Public Programs. Archived from the original on January 26, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  22. ^ "Constitution USA with Peter Sagal". Twin Cities Public Television. Archived from the original on January 23, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  23. ^ Smith, Tim (June 12, 2015). "The BSO hits another expressive peak with semi-staging of 'Candide'". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  24. ^ Valania, Jonathan. "Q&A: Peter Sagal, Host of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me". Phawker. Archived from the original on November 26, 2016. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  25. ^ Puluse, Don (May 8, 2016). "Wait Wait's Peter Sagal and Symphony by the Sea at the Cabot Theater". Marblehead Patch. Patch. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  26. ^ a b Trainor, Ken (May 7, 2013). "Sagal has been busy". Wednesday Journal. Oak Park, Illinois. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  27. ^ "Peter Sagal Host, NPR's "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!"". Chicago Ideas. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  28. ^ a b "Discover Author Peter Sagal". HarperCollinsPublishers. HarperCollins. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  29. ^ a b c d "Peter Sagal 2013 Moment Magazine Creativity Award Recipient". Moment magazine. Center for Creative Change. Archived from the original on March 22, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  30. ^ Sagal, Peter (November 3, 2014). "Peter Sagal Remembers 'Car Talk' Host Tom Magliozzi". Time magazine. Time magazine. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  31. ^ a b c Shilcutt, Katharine (June 23, 2015). "NPR's Peter Sagal Talks Sandwich Mondays and Banh Mi". Houstonia. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  32. ^ Sagal, Peter (March 30, 2015). "Sandwich Monday: The Passover Sandwich". The Salt. NPR. Archived from the original on January 27, 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  33. ^ Sagal, Peter (March 23, 2015). "Sandwich Monday: Burger King's YUMBO". The Salt. NPR. Archived from the original on January 28, 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  34. ^ "The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them)". publishersweekly.com. Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  35. ^ "Peter Sagal: The 2016 Kurt Vonnegut Humor Award Recipient". Kurt Vonnegut Museum * Library Blog. Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. October 21, 2016. Archived from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  36. ^ Taylor, Emily (November 9, 2016). ""Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!" host Peter Sagal on Kurt Vonnegut, ethics and memory". NUVO.net. NUVO newspaper. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  37. ^ a b "Peter Sagal". Yakima Town Hall Speakers Series. Yakima Town Hall. Archived from the original on January 31, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  38. ^ "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! (National Public Radio)". Peabody: Stories That Matter. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  39. ^ Barnhart, Melissa (December 10, 2014). "Pastor Robert Jeffress Condemns NPR Host Peter Sagal for Mocking Jesus; NPR's CEO Says He 'Regrets' Joke Didn't Succeed". The Christian Post. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.

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