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OK, so it's no Hollywood ending
A Woody Allen fanatic who made a film of his bid to hand his idol a script has now turned it into a blues song

Jesse Greenspan is a freelance writer.

April 24, 2005

Keith Black can't sing. Yet nearly two years after the Sheepshead Bay High School math teacher from Brooklyn debuted his short film, "Get the Script to Woody Allen," he has come out with a promotional blues song that delves into his favorite topic - his real-life effort to hand Allen a script at a jazz club four years ago.

Allen took the script but never called back, prompting Black to make first his 17-minute film, and now a song, "The Get the Script to Woody Allen Blues," which premiered March 26 on "The Joey Reynolds Show" on WOR/710.

"Just like I always dreamed of acting, I always dreamed of singing," said Black, 36, who lives with his mother in Old Mill Basin. "But, of course, I sound like a frog."

Determined artist

It's true. B.B. King he is not, but, then again, he doesn't try to be. In a whiny, neurotic tone ("That's the joke"), Black croaks five out-of-rhythm verses to a standard blues beat in a voice that is deeper but still similar to that of his idol. "Woody Allen is my hero," the song goes. "He's the greatest director, actor, writer of all time. I love Woody Allen. In fact, I was so depressed growing up cause I had 20-20 vision. My dream came true in high school when I finally needed my first pair of glasses. Woody Allen, you're the greatest."

The idea for the song came in early February, when Black spontaneously free-styled a few verses to one of his math classes. His students, who refer to him as "Dollar Fifty," liked the song, so Black decided to write down the lyrics.

He then went to Sheepshead Bay music teacher Adam Vicelich, the lead singer of the New York band Closenuf, who helped him with the music. "We were thinking an Adam Sandler Hanukkah song, that style," Black said.

After working together for a few weeks, the two teachers recorded the song in a three-hour session at Vicelich's house. "The Joey Reynolds Show," with about 8 million listeners nationally, was the first to respond to Black's pitches, bringing him on for its Friday night Jewish hour.

"Keith is adorable," said Myra Chanin, a booking producer and on-air personality for Joey Reynolds. "He has a kind of hopeful innocence. He thinks publicity is going to make him a star.

"To want to be Woody Allen at the point where Woody Allen is kind of a has-been is funny," Chanin added. "He'd be better off being himself."

Since "Get the Script to Woody Allen" - which Black starred in and co-wrote with the film's director, Steve Marshall - won an award at the Long Island International Film Expo in July 2003, the film has played at various festivals and independent movie theaters across the country.

Inspired by neurosis

It has also appeared on TV in Poland, Canada and Australia, as well as Northwest and Continental airlines. Black is afraid to fly, however, and even turned down a chance to introduce his film - and to meet Allen - at the 2003 Venice International Film Festival in Italy.

"My mom flew back and forth to Baltimore six times just to get passenger reactions," Black said "The last time I went to pick her up at JFK she was signing autographs."

Like Allen, Black has innumerable neuroses about dating. He has a dating coach, 91-year-old psychotherapist Albert Ellis, whom Black described as better than Freud. "The guy's 91, and he gets more dates than me, and he didn't even make a movie," Black said.

On dates, Black gives out "audience feedback cards," asking the women to rate him on kissing, choice of restaurant and cologne. The options are excellent, fair and pathetic.

"Quite frankly, I'm way more neurotic than Woody Allen ever was," Black said. "I'm way more meshugana ("crazy" in Yiddish) than him. Come on, a math teacher who wants to be Woody Allen. The only thing more meshugana is if Woody Allen wanted to be a math teacher."

Eventually, Black hopes to sell a screenplay to a Hollywood studio, then play the lead role in the movie. "The only way I would step down is if two actors would take my place: Denzel Washington and Vin Diesel, because Vin Diesel would have to wear glasses," Black said.

But even if he does somehow become a star, he has no urge to quit his day job. "To make movies from 3 to 8 would be a great message to send to young people," he said.

Copyright 2005, Newsday, Inc.

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