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Posted on Fri, Jan. 14, 2005


Do neuroses help your film career? This guy says yes

I'm not writing about Keith Black because he has described me as "the nation's No. 1 critic" in a postcard. If I were a suspicious person, I might think he'd also used that phrase to describe people who have already written about him, including John Anderson of Newsday ("charmingly obsessive") and Bob Strauss of the Los Angeles Daily News ("endearing, with a winning edge of cuddliness"). Maybe they're the nation's No. 2 and No. 3 critics?

No, I'm writing about the ninth-grade math teacher from Brooklyn because he typifies the chutzpah an unknown guy needs if he dreams of being discovered. He co-wrote "Get the Script to Woody Allen" with director Steve Marshall, then starred as a neurotic schlump anxious to do what the title says. He ends up hitting on the assistant to Woody's eye doctor and realizes she's the girl of his rather unusual dreams.

Black slips away from quadratic equations to maintain a one-man publicity and marketing blitz. A New York Times article says he has spent "half a dozen years attending acting seminars, pounding out scripts, cold-calling producers and generally transforming himself into a spotlight-ready character." (You can learn more at

Though Black hasn't done all the obvious things -- I can't find his film on the Internet Movie Data Base -- this frenzy of self-promotion has gotten his 15-minute short placed on Showtime and the new Movieola Channel. Allen hasn't seen it, though Black jokes that, "He's such a nice guy, he autographed my restraining order."

I don't know if Black can sustain a feature-length idea, but he pulls off this short with fixated aplomb. It's as much about his character's need to be accepted himself as to have his script accepted, and Black (who says he's as neurotic as his idol) is ideally cast. More power to him!

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