Posted on Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 by David Chen
Over two years ago, I made the following pitch to actor Stephen Tobolowsky: “Your stories are so good. I bet there are tons more stories where those came from. And I feel like if we don’t do something to preserve them, they’ll be lost forever. So, let me know if you want to do something to preserve them.” The subsequent project that resulted, “The Tobolowsky Files,” changed both of our lives. In addition to becoming a successful podcast, it has since led to sold out live shows, been picked up on several public radio stations, and spawned a book from Simon & Schuster.
Now Public Radio International, which distributes hit radio shows such as This American Life, has entered into an agreement with Stephen and I to produce and distribute a brand new radio show based on “The Tobolowsky Files.” The new show will feature many of Stephen’s great stories, but in a new, professional format that will make them more accessible than ever. I can’t say what the future will hold for our show, but our hope is that “The Tobolowsky Files” will be coming soon to a public radio station near you.
More details, plus the full press release, after the jump.
First of all, if you’re a listener to the podcast, no worries: it’ll still be updated, albeit infrequently and perhaps even in a different form than its current incarnation. But I absolutely urge you to stay tuned to PRI’s website for more updates on our show.
For me, this news is the fulfillment of a dream that began when I first heard an episode of “This American Life” on the radio back in high school. I instantly recognized the quality of the storytelling, and its potential to move and change people. To create a show that comes even remotely close to that level of excellence, and to have some association with the organization that makes “This American Life” possible — these are realities I scarcely could have dreamed of, even just a few years ago.
This project has been the result of hundreds of hours of work, done purely out of the love for quality storytelling. Today’s news is the culmination of all of that work. To all of you who’ve supported the show through your unyielding advocacy, your consistent listenership, and your beautiful, supportive letters: Thank you. This news belongs to you as well. Here’s PRI’s press release:
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PRI has begun production on “The Tobolowsky Files,” a series of specials featuring profound, moving, and hilarious true stories about life, love and Hollywood, written and performed by character actor Stephen Tobolowsky. “The Tobolowsky Files” started as a popular podcast produced by /Film’s David Chen and Stephen Tobolowsky. Melinda Ward, PRI’s Senior Vice President of Content, became a fan of the podcast and thought it would make a great public radio show.
“Stephen is a truly great storyteller,” Ward said, “and the stories of his experiences as one of America’s most prolific character actors range from hilariously odd to surprisingly poignant. We’re looking forward to adding Stephen’s voice and ‘The Tobolowsky Files’ to PRI’s portfolio of distinctive news, talk, culture and music programming.” Veteran public radio producer Margaret Moos Pick has been tapped to oversee the production of the four-part pilot of “The Tobolowsky Files,” which will be available on-air, as well as on-demand at PRI.org.
Stephen Tobolowsky is one of the leading character actors in film today. USA Today listed Stephen as the ninth most frequently seen actor in movies. He has appeared over 200 movies and television shows. He is best known for playing Ned Ryerson in “Groundhog Day,” Sammy Jankis in “Memento,” Werner Brandes in “Sneakers,” Happy Chapman in “Garfield,” and Mr. Bates in “Freaky Friday.” On television, he has played Tor Ekland on “Seinfeld,” Hugo Jarry on “Deadwood,” Bob Bishop on “Heroes,” and is currently seen as Sandy Ryerson on “Glee,” Stu Beggs on “Californication,” and has started work on “The Mindy Project,” premiering this fall on Fox.
He wrote and performed “Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party” that premiered at the HBO Comedy Festival in Aspen. He wrote the movie “True Stories” with David Byrne and Beth Henley. His first book of stories, “The Dangerous Animals Club,” is being published by Simon and Schuster in September 2012. PRI will make “The Tobolowsky Files” available to public radio stations around the country, and on-demand at PRI.org, in October 2012.