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Elliot Norton Reviews; Neil Simon


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Elliot Norton Reviews
Neil Simon
Series Description

Boston theatre critic Elliot Norton interviews prominent actors, directors and producers on their craft. (Aired from October, 1958 to 1982. Winner of both Peabody and Tony Awards.) Series release date: 1958

Program Description

Elliot Norton interviews playwright Neil Simon about his prolific and successful career in the theater. Simon talks about his writing habits while living in California, which includes taking breaks to go outside and play tennis. He thinks that he is getting more productive as he gets older and says, “Ideas are pouring now more than any other part of my life.” Ideas for characters and stories come into his head all the time and flow out onto the pages when he sits down at the typewriter. He talks about how he develops his characters. He has to consider lots of details about them including what they wear and how they talk in order to understand who they are. He wants to be prepared to go to the theater and answer the questions the actors have about the characters they are playing.

Simon talks about the process of writing his semi-autobiographical play, Chapter Two. By the time the play went up, he felt that he had gone through a catharsis. He also talks about his relationship with ex-wife Marsha Mason and how she went about playing herself in the film, Chapter Two.

Simon discusses the process of writing his play, California Suite. He equates his writing with music. He reads the words aloud to find the right rhythm, adding or subtracting words along the way. He also talks about the process of transferring his plays to the medium of film. He finds the rhythm of the lines harder to control in film, because the editors are ultimately in control. For this reason, he does not like writing for film as much as for the theater. Another topic is the process of writing and rewriting the play, The Gingerbread Lady, which he later transformed into the film, Only When I Laugh.

Director: Russ Fortier. Taped 3/3/1981.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Talk Show
Performing Arts
Chicago: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Neil Simon,” 03/03/1981, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Neil Simon.” 03/03/1981. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: Elliot Norton Reviews; Neil Simon. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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