Steven Kunes

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Steven Kunes
Steven kunes.jpg
Born 1956
Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Alma mater New York University
Occupation Screenwriter, author, and playwright

Steven Kunes (born 1956) is an American screenwriter, author, and playwright.

Background and early career[edit]

Kunes was born in 1956 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He attended high school at Neshaminy High School, and college at New York University.


Kunes has written for Salute to America's Pets,[1] a.k.a. Pablo (developed by Norman Lear and starring comedian Paul Rodriguez), Kate & Allie, Love Boat, Marblehead Manor, Small Wonder, What's Happening Now, Trial & Error (also starring comedian Paul Rodriguez), The Magical World of Disney, Out of this World, and Cheers.[2]

Daily Variety reported on June 10, 1992 that Kunes had sold a screenplay entitled "First Comes Love" for $1.2 million; although no film was produced, this was the highest amount ever paid for an original screenplay at the time of its sale.[3]

Legal Troubles[edit]

In 1982, Kunes attempted to sell to People magazine an interview with reclusive author J. D. Salinger, whom he claimed he had met. Salinger sued and settled the case under the conditions that Kunes was "permanently enjoined from representing by any means that he is associated with Salinger", barred from "exhibiting, transmitting or exhibiting documents, writing or statements attributed to Salinger" and "required to collect and turn over any such documents or writings for destruction". The interview was never published.[4][5] He later succeeded in selling a fake interview with Jimmy Buffett to the Santa Barbara Daily Sound.[6]

Steven Kunes was arrested on March 17, 2011 for purportedly swindling his friend, former Café Buenos Aires owner Wally Ronchietto, out of $2,000 for a movie deal that didn’t exist.[6] On April 23, 2011, Noozhawk, a Santa Barbara online publication, announced that it has removed six of Kunes' articles from their digital archives as two contained plagiarized passages.[7]

On August 27, 2011, a Santa Barbara judge issued a $200,000 bench warrant for his arrest when he failed to appear in court.[8] Thought to have been hiding in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, he was apprehended in New Jersey less than a month later. [9] At court, Kunes pleaded guilty and admitted to forging checks.[10] On May 4, 2012, he was sentenced to five years in jail for felony commercial burglary and grand theft by false pretenses. A plea deal allowed for a sentence of only four years if Kunes had paid restitution to his victims, but no payments were made.[11][12] On February 25, 2013, Noozhawk, a Santa Barbara online news publisher, reported that Kunes had been arrested again. He had been serving his five year sentence and had been approved for electronic monitoring on August 1, 2012. Kunes removed the device on August 22, 2012 and mailed the device back to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office. A photo posted on the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office Facebook page led to his identification at a Carpinteria cafe and his subsequent arrest.[13]


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  4. ^ Weber, Myles. "Augmenting the Salinger Oeuvre by Any Means" in Bloom, Harold, ed. J. D. Salinger New York: Infobase Publishing ("Bloom's Modern Critical Views" series), 2008; pp. 199, 202, 210
  5. ^ Associated Press "Lawsuit by Salinger muzzles his imitator" Ottawa Citizen November 5, 1982, p. 65, col. 1
  6. ^ a b Hayden, Tyler. "A Tale Stranger Than Fiction: Hollywood Screenwriter with History of Mischief Accused of Theft". Santa Barbara Independent. Santa Barbara, California. Retrieved August 27, 2011. 
  7. ^ Magnoli, Giana (May 4, 2011). "Accused Forger, Plagiarist Steven Kunes Appears in Court: The Santa Barbara man, who submitted apparent cribbed commentaries to local publications, is also suspected of trying to pass $12,000 in bad checks". Noozhawk: Santa Barbara & Goleta. Retrieved August 27, 2011. 
  8. ^ Hayden, Tyler (August 27, 2011). "Judge Issues Warrant for Wanted Screenwriter: Steven Kunes, Charged with Felony Forgery and Grand Theft, Fails to Appear in Court". Santa Barbara Independent. Santa Barbara, California. Retrieved August 27, 2011. 
  9. ^ Finley, Ben; Dan Perez (September 16, 2011). "Cops: Neshaminy grad wrote more than just scripts in California". Philadelphia. Retrieved September 17, 2011. 
  10. ^ Hayden, Tyler (November 29, 2011). "Steven Kunes Admits to Forging Checks and Scamming Friend: Will Spend Four or Five Years Behind Bars, Depending on Restitution to Victims". Santa Barbara Independent. Santa Barbara, California. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  11. ^ Hayden, Tyler (May 8, 2012). "Scheming Screenwriter Sentenced to Five Years". Santa Barbara Independent. Santa Barbara, California. Retrieved May 12, 2012. 
  12. ^ Magnoli, Giana (May 4, 2012). "Check Forger Steven Kunes Sentenced to 5 Years in Santa Barbara County Jail". Noozhawk. Santa Barbara, California. Retrieved May 12, 2012. 
  13. ^ Nelson, Michelle (February 25, 2013). "Facebook Photo Leads to Arrest of Fugitive Steven Kunes". Noozhawk. Santa Barbara, California: Malamute Ventures LLC. Retrieved April 3, 2013.